Robert A. Bjork

Robert A. Bjork
University of California, Los Angeles | UCLA · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

180
Publications
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21,639
Citations

Publications

Publications (180)
Article
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We assessed the effects of removing some constraints that characterize traditional experiments on the effects of spaced, rather than massed, study opportunities. In five experiments—using lists of to-be-remembered words—we examined the effects of how total study time was distributed across multiple repetitions of a given to-be-remembered word. Over...
Article
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A century ago, spelling skills were highly valued and widely taught in schools using traditional methods, such as weekly lists, drill exercises, and low- and high-stakes spelling tests. That approach was featured in best-selling textbooks such as the Horn-Ashbaugh Speller of 1920. In the early 21st century, however, skepticism as to the importance...
Chapter
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To learn effectively requires understanding some fundamental, but unintuitive, properties of how the human learning and memory system works. A variety of research findings suggests, however, that human beings are prone to carrying around a mental model of learning and memory processes that is inaccurate and/or incomplete in some fundamental ways-ow...
Article
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Although widely used, the true-false test is often regarded as a superficial or even harmful test, one that lacks the pedagogical efficacy of more substantive tests (e.g., cued-recall or short-answer tests). Such charges, however, lack conclusive evidence and may, in some cases, be false. Across four experiments, we investigated how true-false test...
Article
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In participants’ learning of semantically related paired associates, such as whale-mammal, prior research has demonstrated that having participants first attempt to predict what the to-be-learned response to a given cue will be enhances subsequent cued recall of that response, even when such predictions are always wrong (e.g., Kornell et al., 2009...
Preprint
Full-text available
A century ago, spelling skills were highly valued and widely taught in schools using traditional methods, such as weekly lists, drill exercises, and low- and high-stakes spelling tests. That approach was featured in best-selling textbooks such as the Horn-Ashbaugh Speller of 1920. In the early 21st century, however, skepticism as to the importance...
Article
Full-text available
Students are often advised to do all of their studying in one good place, but restudying to-be-learned material in a new context can enhance subsequent recall. We examined whether there are similar benefits for testing. In Experiment 1 (n = 106), participants studied a 36-word list and 48 hr later—when back in the same or a new context—either restu...
Article
Although examples can be structured to emphasize diagnostic features of concepts, novice learners tend to focus on irrelevant surface features and struggle to encode deeper structures. Experiment 1 examined whether pretesting-answering questions about content before it is studied-could enhance learners' noticing of diagnostic features, making them...
Article
Technological advances have given us tools—Google, in particular—that can both augment and free up our cognitive resources. Research has demonstrated, however, that some cognitive costs may arise from our reliance on such external memories. We examined whether pretesting—asking participants to solve a problem before consulting Google for needed inf...
Preprint
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Prior work (e.g., Koriat, 1997) has shown that when learners predict how well they will remember an item being studied (metacognitive monitoring), they account for certain factors that predict later memory, but ignore other relevant factors. In the present study, we examined how level of processing and assigned value affect metacognitive judgments....
Article
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The testing effect refers to the finding that retrieving previously encoded material typically improves subsequent recall performance more on a later test than does restudying that material. Storm et al. (2014) demonstrated, however, that when feedback is provided on such a later test the testing advantage then turns to a restudying advantage on su...
Article
One of the "important peculiarities" of human learning (Bjork RA and Bjork EL. From Learning Processes to Cognitive Processes: Essays in Honor of William K. Estes, 1992, p. 35-67) is that certain conditions that produce forgetting-that is, impair access to some to-be-learned information studied earlier-also enhance the learning of that information...
Article
Interleaving examples of different categories, rather than blocking examples by category, often enhances the learning of those categories, but does this benefit vary by learner? On one hand, it could be argued that interleaving places increased demands on a learner's working-memory capacity (WMC), which could foster suboptimal learning for those wi...
Article
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Richard Schmidt and I titled our article “New Conceptualizations of Practice: Common Principles in Three Paradigms Suggest New Concepts for Training” to reflect our view that prevailing ideas about how to optimize teaching, learning, and practicing were, in our words, “at best incomplete, and at worst incorrect.” We argued that teachers and trainer...
Article
The sequencing of exemplars during study can have a large effect on category or concept induction. Counter to learners' intuitions, interleaving exemplars from different categories is often more effective for learning the different underlying categories than is blocking all the exemplars by category (e.g., Kornell & Bjork, 2008). Prior research sug...
Article
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Taking multiple-choice practice tests with competitive incorrect alternatives can enhance performance on related but different questions appearing on a later cued-recall test (Little et al., Psychol Sci 23:1337?1344, 2012). This benefit of multiple-choice testing, which does not occur when the practice test is a cued-recall test, appears attributab...
Article
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The shift from recency to primacy with delay reflects a fundamental observation in the study of memory. As time passes, the accessibility of earlier-learned representations tends to increase relative to the accessibility of later-learned representations. In three experiments involving participants' memory for text materials, we examined whether par...
Article
Interleaving exemplars of to-be-learned categories-rather than blocking exemplars by category-typically enhances inductive learning. Learners, however, tend to believe the opposite, even after their own performance has benefited from interleaving. In Experiments 1 and 2, the authors examined the influence of 2 factors that they hypothesized contrib...
Article
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We examined the impact of repeated testing and repeated studying on long-term learning. In Experiment 1, we replicated Karpicke and Roediger's (2008) influential results showing that once information can be recalled, repeated testing on that information enhances learning, whereas restudying that information does not. We then examined whether the ap...
Article
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Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by cognitive biases toward threat-relevant information, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We translated a retrieval-practice paradigm from cognitive science to investigate impaired inhibition of threat information as one such mechanism. Participants diagnosed with GAD and never-disordered...
Article
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People often think of themselves and their experiences in a more positive light than is objectively justified. Inhibitory control processes may promote this positivity bias by modulating the accessibility of negative thoughts and episodes from the past, which then limits their influence in the construction of imagined future events. We tested this...
Article
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Retrieving information can impair the subsequent recall of related information. Such retrieval-induced forgetting is often attributed to inhibitory mechanisms, but Jonker, MacLeod, and Seli (2013) recently proposed an alternate account. In their view, the study and retrieval-practice phases constitute two disparate contexts, and impairment of unpra...
Article
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The primary goal of instruction should be to facilitate long-term learning-that is, to create relatively permanent changes in comprehension, understanding, and skills of the types that will support long-term retention and transfer. During the instruction or training process, however, what we can observe and measure is performance, which is often an...
Article
In this article we discuss the role of desirable difficulties in vocabulary learning from two perspectives, one having to do with identifying conditions of learning that impose initial challenges to the learner but then benefit later retention and transfer, and the other having to do with the role of certain difficulties that are intrinsic to langu...
Article
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Marginal knowledge refers to knowledge that is stored in memory, but is not accessible at a given moment. For example, one might struggle to remember who wrote The Call of the Wild, even if that knowledge is stored in memory. Knowing how best to stabilize access to marginal knowledge is important, given that new learning often requires accessing an...
Article
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Prior research by Kornell and Bjork (2007) and Hartwig and Dunlosky (2012) has demonstrated that college students tend to employ study strategies that are far from optimal. We examined whether individuals in the broader—and typically older—population might hold different beliefs about how best to study and learn, given their more extensive experien...
Article
The finding that trying, and failing, to predict the upcoming to-be-remembered response to a given cue can enhance later recall of that response, relative to studying the intact cue-response pair, is surprising, especially given that the standard paradigm (e.g., Kornell, Hays, & Bjork, 2009) involves allocating what would otherwise be study time to...
Article
To understand how generalization develops across the lifespan, researchers have examined the factors of the learning environment that promote the acquisition and generalization of categories. One such factor is the timing of learning events, which recent findings suggest may play a particularly important role in children’s generalization. In the cu...
Article
The induction of categories and concepts from examples-which plays an important role in how people come to organize and understand the world-can happen at multiple levels, but how do competing values at these different levels affect learning? Using perceptually rich images of snakes, we asked participants to attend to either the snakes' specific ge...
Article
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Tests, as learning events, are often more effective than are additional study opportunities, especially when recall is tested after a long retention interval. To what degree, though, do prior test or study events support subsequent study activities? We set out to test an implication of Bjork and Bjork's (1992) new theory of disuse-that, under some...
Article
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Previous research on the redundancy principle in multimedia learning has shown that although exact correspondence between on-screen text and narration generally impairs learning, brief labels within an animation can improve learning. To clarify and extend the theoretical and practical implications of these results, the authors of the present resear...
Article
Despite the clear long-term benefits of spaced practice, students and teachers often choose massed practice. Whether learners actually fail to appreciate the benefits of spacing is, however, open to question. Early studies (e.g., Zechmeister & Shaughnessy, 1980) found that participants' judgments of learning were higher after massed than after spac...
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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Among the criticisms of multiple-choice tests is that-by exposing the correct answer as one of the alternatives-such tests engage recognition processes rather than the productive retrieval processes known to enhance later recall. We tested whether multiple-choice tests could trigger productive retrieval processes-provided the alternatives were made...
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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There are many instances in which perceptual disfluency leads to improved memory performance, a phenomenon often referred to as the perceptual-interference effect (e.g., Diemand-Yauman, Oppenheimer, & Vaughn (Cognition 118:111-115, 2010); Nairne (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 14:248-255, 1988)). In some situati...
Article
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Information retrieved from memory becomes more recallable in the future than it would have been otherwise. Competing information associated with the same cues, however, tends to become less recallable, at least for a while. Whether the latter effect—referred to as retrieval-induced forgetting—is persistent, or only transient, is the question that m...
Article
A key educational challenge is how to correct students' errors and misconceptions so that they do not persist. Simply labelling an answer as correct or incorrect on a short-answer test (verification feedback) does not improve performance on later tests; error correction requires receiving answer feedback. We explored the generality of this conclusi...
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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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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Tests, as learning events, can enhance subsequent recall more than do additional study opportunities, even without feedback. Such advantages of testing tend to appear, however, only at long retention intervals and/or when criterion tests stress recall, rather than recognition, processes. We propose that the interaction of the benefits of testing ve...
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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One measure of conceptual implicit memory is repetition priming in the generation of exemplars from a semantic category, but does such priming transfer across languages? That is, do the overlapping conceptual representations for translation equivalents provide a sufficient basis for such priming? In Experiment 1 (N=96) participants carried out a de...
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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Retrieving information from memory makes that information more recallable in the future than it otherwise would have been. Optimizing retrieval practice has been assumed, on the basis of evidence and arguments tracing back to Landauer and Bjork (1978), to require an expanding-interval schedule of successive retrievals, but recent findings suggest t...
Article
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This Amicus Curiae brief is submitted on behalf of 13 current and former professors of psychology who are experts on memory and eyewitness identification. Amici teach, research and write about memory as evidence as applied by the state and federal courts of the United States. As experts on memory and eyewitness identification, they have a stro...
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...
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This article constitutes an optimistic argument that basic research on human cognitive processes has yielded principles and phenomena that have considerable promise in guiding the design and execution of college instruction. To illustrate that point, four somewhat interrelated principles and phenomena arc outlined and some possible implications and...
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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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The term “learning styles” refers to the concept that individuals differ in regard to what mode of instruction or study is most effective for them. Proponents of learning-style assessment contend that optimal instruction requires diagnosing individuals' learning style and tailoring instruction accordingly. Assessments of learning style typically as...
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...
Chapter
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Cognition and Instruction: Bridging Laboratory and Classroom SettingsApproach 1: Increasing the Educational Relevance of Laboratory StudiesApproach 2: Testing Learning Principles in Classroom SettingsConclusions Author NotesReferences
Article
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The time course of physicians' knowledge retention after learning activities has not been well characterized. Understanding the time course of retention is critical to optimizing the reinforcement of knowledge. Educational follow-up experiment with knowledge retention measured at 1 of 6 randomly assigned time intervals (0-55 days) after an online t...
Article
The current study examined the impact of thought suppression on indices of anxiety, including memory indices (implicit and explicit memory biases) and physiological indices (heart rate). The participants, 81 undergraduates scoring in the top quartile of a self-report measure of trait anxiety, were randomly assigned to one of three experimental grou...
Article
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False recall of an unpresented critical word after studying its semantic associates can be reduced substantially if the strongest and earliest-studied associates are presented as part-list cues during testing (Kimball & Bjork, 2002). To disentangle episodic and semantic contributions to this decline in false recall, we factorially manipulated the c...
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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Research on retrieval-induced forgetting has demonstrated that retrieving some information from memory can cause the forgetting of other information in memory. Here, the authors report research on the relearning of items that have been subjected to retrieval-induced forgetting. Participants studied a list of category- exemplar pairs, underwent a se...
Article
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As a means of clarifying the memory dynamics that underlie retrieval-induced forgetting, we explored how instructing participants either to remember or to forget a previously presented list of items influences the susceptibility of those items to inhibition. According to the inhibitory account of retrieval-induced forgetting, it is the items that i...
Article
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The present article addresses whether multiple-choice tests may change knowledge even as they attempt to measure it. Overall, taking a multiple-choice test boosts performance on later tests, as compared with non-tested control conditions. This benefit is not limited to simple definitional questions, but holds true for SAT II questions and for items...
Article
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