Nate Kornell

Nate Kornell
Williams College · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

65
Publications
63,128
Reads
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6,163
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2009 - August 2020
Williams College
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
June 2005 - May 2009
University of California, Los Angeles
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
July 1999 - July 2005
Columbia University
Field of study
  • cognitive psychology
September 1992 - May 1996
Reed College
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (65)
Article
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We investigated the effect of expertise on the wisdom of crowds. Participants completed 60 trials of a numerical estimation task, during which they saw 50–100 asterisks and were asked to estimate how many stars they had just seen. Experiment 1 established that both inner- and outer-crowd wisdom extended to our novel task: Single responses alone wer...
Article
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We investigated the cognitive processes that cause confidence to increase. Participants were asked 48 general-knowledge questions either once or three times, without feedback. After 2 min (Experiment 1) or 48 h (Experiment 2) they were asked the same questions again, and rated their confidence. Repeated questioning increased confidence but not accu...
Article
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Abstract Testing oneself (i.e., doing retrieval practice) is an effective way to study. We attempted to make learners choose to test themselves more often. In Experiment 1, participants were asked how they wanted to study and were given four options: retrieval with no hint (e.g., idea: ______), a two-letter hint (e.g., idea: s____r), a four-letter...
Article
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Over the course of a criminal investigation, eyewitnesses are sometimes shown multiple lineups in an attempt to identify the culprit, yet little research has examined eyewitness identification performance from multiple lineups. In two experiments, we examined eyewitness identification accuracy among witnesses who made an inaccurate identification f...
Article
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Abstract Video job interviews have become a common hiring practice, allowing employers to save money and recruit from a wider applicant pool. But differences in job candidates’ internet connections mean that some interviews will have higher audiovisual (AV) quality than others. We hypothesized that interviewers would be impacted by AV quality when...
Article
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SCIENTIFIC Studying something and then restudying it right away (blocking) is less effective than studying it and then restudying it again after a delay (spacing). Learners would do well to recognize the advantage of spacing, but they often rate it as being less effective than blocking. The authors looked at what happens when people are put in cont...
Article
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Like humans, monkeys can make accurate judgements about their own memory by reporting their confidence during cognitive tasks. Some have suggested that animals use associative learning to make accurate confidence judgements, while others have suggested animals directly access and estimate the strength of their memories. Here we test a third, non-ex...
Article
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Past research has shown a performance bias: People expect their future performance level on a task to match their current performance level, even when there are good reasons to expect future performance to differ from current performance. One explanation of this bias is that judgments are controlled by what learners can observe, and while current p...
Article
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Kornell and Rhodes (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 19, 1–13, 2013) reported that correct answer feedback impairs the accuracy of prospective memory judgments. The current experiments explored the boundaries of this effect. In Experiment 1, participants studied Lithuanian-English word pairs, took an initial test, and were either given...
Chapter
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Attempting to recall information from memory (ie, retrieval practice) has been shown to enhance learning across a wide variety of materials, learners, and experimental conditions. We examine the moderating effects of what is arguably the most fundamental distinction to be made about retrieval: whether a retrieval attempt results in success or failu...
Article
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We review recent studies that asked: Do college students learn relatively more from teachers whom they rate highly on student evaluation forms? Recent studies measured learning at two time points. When learning was measured with a test at the end of the course, the teachers who got the highest ratings were the ones who contributed the most to learn...
Article
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Attempting to retrieve information from memory is an engaging cognitive activity. We predicted that people would learn more when they had spent more time attempting to retrieve. In experiments 1a and 1b, participants were shown trivia questions for 0, 5, 10, or 30 seconds and then the answer was revealed. They took a final test immediately or after...
Article
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Retrieval failures—moments when a memory will not come to mind—are a universal human experience. Yet many laypeople believe human memory is a reliable storage system in which a stored memory should be accessible. I predicted that people would see retrieval failures as aberrations and predict that fewer retrieval failures would happen in the future....
Article
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Use of highlighting is a prevalent study strategy among students, but evidence regarding its benefit for learning is mixed. We examined highlighting in relation to distributed study and students’ attitudes about highlighting as a study strategy. Participants read a text passage twice while highlighting or not, with their readings either distributed...
Article
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The amount students learn is influenced by the decisions they make while they study. Prior research shows that when people decide what to study (and what not to), they almost universally prioritise information they do not know over information they do know. We found that focusing on unknown items was beneficial when memory was tested immediately af...
Article
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Retrieving information from memory enhances learning. We propose a 2-stage framework to explain the benefits of retrieval. Stage 1 takes place as one attempts to retrieve an answer, which activates knowledge related to the retrieval cue. Stage 2 begins when the answer becomes available, at which point appropriate connections are strengthened and in...
Article
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According to a recent survey, it is common for students to study two topics at the same time using flashcards, and students who do so virtually always keep the topics separate instead of mixing flashcards together (Wissman, Rawson, & Pyc, 2012). We predicted that mixing might be a relatively easy way to increase learning efficiency because mixing i...
Article
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Metacognition, the ability to assess one's own knowledge, has been targeted as a critical learning mechanism in mathematics education. Yet the early childhood origins of metacognition have proven difficult to study. Using a novel nonverbal task and a comprehensive set of metacognitive measures, we provided the strongest evidence to date that young...
Article
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The present research assessed the potential effects of expecting to teach on learning. In two experiments, participants studied passages either in preparation for a later test or in preparation for teaching the passage to another student who would then be tested. In reality, all participants were tested, and no one actually engaged in teaching. Par...
Article
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This response to commentaries describes 4 kinds of cues that could guide metacognitive judgments. The cues are classified based on 2 factors: whether they are direct assessments of the information being judged (direct) or involve drawing inferences from other information (inferential), and whether they are observable to outsiders (public) or not (p...
Article
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Apes, dolphins, and some monkeys seem to have metacognitive abilities: They can accurately evaluate the likelihood that their response in cognitive task was (or will be) correct. These certainty judgments are seen as significant because they imply that animals can evaluate internal cognitive states, which may entail meaningful self-reflection. But...
Article
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Attempting to retrieve information from memory enhances subsequent learning even if the retrieval attempt is unsuccessful. Recent evidence suggests that this benefit materializes only if subsequent study occurs immediately after the retrieval attempt. Previous studies have prompted retrieval using a cue (e.g., whale-???) that has no intrinsic answe...
Article
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A growing body of research suggests that some non-human animals are capable of making accurate metacognitive judgments. In previous studies, non-human animals have made either retrospective or prospective judgments (about how they did on a test or how they will do on a test, respectively). These two types of judgments are dissociable in humans. The...
Article
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Judgments of learning (JOLs) predict later recall more accurately when they are made, after a delay, based on a cue alone compared with a cue and target. We investigated whether people recognize the benefit of cue-only responses when making JOLs and whether their preferences depend on how JOL prompts are phrased. Forty participants studied glossari...
Article
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The present study explored the effects of lecture fluency on students' metacognitive awareness and regulation. Participants watched one of two short videos of an instructor explaining a scientific concept. In the fluent video, the instructor stood upright, maintained eye contact, and spoke fluidly without notes. In the disfluent video, the instruct...
Article
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Testing long-term memory has dual benefits: It enhances learning and it helps learners discriminate what they know from what they do not know. The latter benefit, known as delayed judgment of learning (dJOL) effect, has been well documented, but in prior research participants have not been provided with test feedback. Yet when people study they alm...
Article
Corresponding author at: 18 Hoxsey Street, Williamstown, MA 01267, United States. Tel.: +1 413 597 4486; fax: +1 413 597 2085.
Article
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Kornell and Bjork (Psychological Science 19:585-592, 2008) found that interleaving exemplars of different categories enhanced inductive learning of the concepts based on those exemplars. They hypothesized that the benefit of mixing exemplars from different categories is that doing so highlights differences between the categories. Kang and Pashler (...
Article
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Knowing how to manage one's own learning has become increasingly important in recent years, as both the need and the opportunities for individuals to learn on their own outside of formal classroom settings have grown. During that same period, however, research on learning, memory, and metacognitive processes has provided evidence that people often...
Article
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Teachers and trainers often try to prevent learners from making errors, but recent findings (e.g., Kornell, Hays, & Bjork, 2009) have demonstrated that tests can potentiate subsequent learning even when the correct answer is difficult or impossible to generate (e.g., "What is Nate Kornell's middle name?"). In 3 experiments, we explored when and why...
Article
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Judgments about memory are essential in promoting knowledge; they help identify trustworthy memories and predict what information will be retained in the future. In the three experiments reported here, we investigated the mechanisms underlying predictions about memory. In Experiments 1 and 2, single words were presented once or multiple times, in l...
Article
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Optimizing learning over multiple retrieval opportunities requires a joint consideration of both the probability and the mnemonic value of a successful retrieval. Previous research has addressed this trade-off by manipulating the schedule of practice trials, suggesting that a pattern of increasingly long lags-"expanding retrieval practice"-may keep...
Article
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Recent advances in memory research suggest methods that can be applied to enhance educational practices. We outline four principles of memory improvement that have emerged from research: 1) process material actively, 2) practice retrieval, 3) use distributed practice, and 4) use metamemory. Our discussion of each principle describes current experim...
Article
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It seems uncontroversial that providing feedback after a test, in the form of the correct answer, enhances learning. In real-world educational situations, however, the time available for learning is often constrained-and feedback takes time. We report an experiment in which total time for learning was fixed, thereby creating a trade-off between spe...
Article
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We compared the effects of spaced versus massed practice on young and older adults' ability to learn visually complex paintings. We expected a spacing advantage when 1 painting per artist was studied repeatedly and tested (repetition) but perhaps a massing advantage, especially for older adults, when multiple different paintings by each artist were...
Article
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Learners of all ages face complex decisions about how to study effectively. Here we investigated three such decisions made in concert—time allocation, ordering, and spacing. First, college students were presented with, and made judgments of learning about, 16 word-synonym pairs. Then, when presented with all 16 pairs, they created their own study s...
Article
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The spacing effect—that is, the benefit of spacing learning events apart rather than massing them together—has been demonstrated in hundreds of experiments, but is not well known to educators or learners. I investigated the spacing effect in the realistic context of flashcard use. Learners often divide flashcards into relatively small stacks, but c...
Article
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We investigated whether the superior memory performance sometimes seen with delayed rather than immediate feedback was attributable to the shorter retention interval (or lag to test) from the last presentation of the correct information in the delayed condition. Whether lag to test was controlled or not, delayed feedback produced better final test...
Article
Although ignorance and uncertainty are usually unwelcome feelings, they have unintuitive advantages for both human and non-human animals, which we review here. We begin with the perils of too much information: expertise and knowledge can come with illusions (and delusions) of knowing. We then describe how withholding information can counteract thes...
Article
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The dynamics of human memory are complex and often unintuitive, but certain features--such as the fact that studying results in learning--seem like common knowledge. In 12 experiments, however, participants who were told they would be allowed to study a list of word pairs between 1 and 4 times and then take a cued-recall test predicted little or no...
Article
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Testing previously studied information enhances long-term memory, particularly when the information is successfully retrieved from memory. The authors examined the effect of unsuccessful retrieval attempts on learning. Participants in 5 experiments read an essay about vision. In the test condition, they were asked about embedded concepts before rea...
Article
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Students have to make scores of practical decisions when they study. We investigated the effectiveness of, and beliefs underlying, one such practical decision: the decision to test oneself while studying. Using a flashcards-like procedure, participants studied lists of word pairs. On the second of two study trials, participants either saw the entir...
Article
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Taking tests enhances learning. But what happens when one cannot answer a test question-does an unsuccessful retrieval attempt impede future learning or enhance it? The authors examined this question using materials that ensured that retrieval attempts would be unsuccessful. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were asked fictional general-knowledg...
Article
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Thinkers in related fields such as philosophy, psychology, and education define metacognition in a variety of different ways. Based on an emerging standard definition in psychology, we present evidence for metacognition in animals, and argue that mindreading and metacognition are largely orthogonal.
Article
It has long been assumed that metacognition—thinking about one's own thoughts—is a uniquely human ability. Yet a decade of research suggests that, like humans, other animals can differentiate between what they know and what they do not know. They opt out of difficult trials; they avoid tests they are unlikely to answer correctly; and they make risk...
Article
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The spacing effect describes the robust phenomenon whereby memory is enhanced when learning events are distributed, instead of being presented in succession. We investigated the effect of spacing on children's memory and category induction. Three-year-old children were presented with two tasks, a memory task and a category induction task. In the me...
Article
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Inductive learning -- that is, learning a new concept or category by observing exemplars -- happens constantly, for example, when a baby learns a new word or a doctor classifies x-rays. What influence does the spacing of exemplars have on induction? Compared with massing, spacing enhances long-term recall, but we expected spacing to hamper inductio...
Article
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Self-regulation of study activities is a constant in the lives of students - who must decide what to study, when to study, how long to study, and by what method to study. We investigated self-regulation in the context of a common study method: flashcards. In four experiments we examined the basis and effectiveness of a metacognitive strategy adopte...
Article
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How well one retains new information depends on how actively it is processed during learning. Active attempts to retrieve information from memory result in more learning than passive observation of the same information (the generation effect). Here, we present evidence for the generation effect in monkeys. Subjects were trained to respond to five-i...
Article
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Self-regulated study involves many decisions, some of which people make confidently and easily (if not always optimally) and others of which are involved and difficult. Good study decisions rest on accurate monitoring of ongoing learning, a realistic mental model of how learning happens, and appropriate use of study strategies. We review our resear...
Article
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Principles of cognitive science hold the promise of helping children to study more effectively, yet they do not always make successful transitions from the laboratory to applied settings and have rarely been tested in such settings. For example, self-generation of answers to questions should help children to remember. But what if children cannot ge...
Article
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In three experiments, learning performance in a 6- or 7-week cognitive-science based computer-study programme was compared to equal time spent self-studying on paper. The first two experiments were conducted with grade 6 and 7 children in a high risk educational setting, the third with Columbia University undergraduates. The principles the programm...
Article
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Metacognition is knowledge that can be expressed as confidence judgments about what one knows (monitoring) and by strategies for learning what one does not know (control). Although there is a substantial literature on cognitive processes in animals, little is known about their metacognitive abilities. Here we show that rhesus macaques, trained prev...
Article
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Tip-of-the-Tongue experiences (TOTs) are often accompanied by incorrect answers (blockers) that come to mind persistently and seem to block recall. According to the blocking hypothesis, blockers cause retrieval difficulty during TOTs. We predicted that delay would allow participants to forget their blockers, and thereby enhance TOT resolution. In E...
Article
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One of the most important reasons to investigate human metacognition is its role in directing how people study. However, limited evidence exists that metacognitively guided study benefits learning. Three experiments are presented that provide evidence for this link. In Experiment 1, participants' learning was enhanced when they were allowed to cont...
Article
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A Region of Proximal Learning model is proposed emphasizing two components to people’s study time allocation, controlled by different metacognitive indices. The first component is choice, which is further segmented into two stages: (1) a decision of whether to study or not and (2) the order of priority of items chosen. If the people’s Judgments of...
Chapter
The chapter shows a paradigm that has the potential to reveal true metacognition in animals. The main controversies surrounding Smith's paradigm centered on whether what he referred to as metacognitive judgments were simply judgments of extant stimuli that are present when the subject responds uncertain. By using a modified version of the match-to-...
Article
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In contrast to the dominant discrepancy reduction model, which favors the most difficult items, people, given free choice, devoted most time to medium-difficulty items and studied the easiest items first. When study time was experimentally manipulated, best performance resulted when most time was given to the medium-difficulty items. Empirically de...
Article
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one of the most sophisticated procedures yet developed by which we can study what seems by most normal intuitive standards to be knowledge about an animal's own knowledge. It is also important to note, I believe, that the opinion I have just expressed has a subjective component. I have suggested (Shimp, in press) that a scientific-peer-review analo...
Article
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Some studies have found that extinction leaves response structures unaltered; others have found that response variability is increased. Responding by Long-Evans rats was extinguished after 3 schedules. In one, reinforcement depended on repetitions of a particular response sequence across 3 operanda. In another, sequences were reinforced only if the...

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Project (1)
Project
I am investigating whether or not a high level of retrieval effort produces more learning than a low level of retrieval effort during a test attempt. My hypothesis is that as long as a retrieval attempt occurs, retrieval effort does not predict learning.