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I recall reading a paper a few years ago (though I think it was in physics) on a class where they decided to repeat a midterm test question on the final exam and students performed noticeably worse on the final exam than on the midterm (in fact only one person's grade noticeably increased I think).

Can anyone help jog my memory with which paper this might have been? Alternatively, if you know of another paper that replicated this effect in mathematics and could let me know that would work as well.

Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ I can think of a well-known paper where the same addition problem was given to students in three tiers (United States), 1-2 grade, 3-4 grade, 5-6 grade (as I recall) and the students did progressively worse. It was a question of the form $7 + 5 = \square + 4$. Not sure if this is helpful... $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Dickman Jun 27 '16 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ To me this doesn't sound all that surprising. Students often forget things that they shouldn't forget. By itself, there doesn't seem to be any reason why such an incident should be considered remarkable enough to write a paper about it. $\endgroup$ – John Coleman Jun 28 '16 at 11:27
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What you describe sounds like a standard pre-test and post-test analysis. Typically these are done to check the impact of a specific intervention. You first give a pre-test to the target group. Then you make the intervention. (You might have a control group too which may not undergo intervention). After the intervention you give the same test again which is called post-test.

If the performance in post-test is better than pre-test you could say the intervention worked. If it's not the case then probably the intervention was ineffective (as seems to be the case in the paper you're looking for). There are lots papers which do pre-test and post-test analysis.

Here are a couple to get you started:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2167/le678.0

http://search.proquest.com/openview/91bc411ad432f947bf80358805ec2d1f/1

Here are a couple more where post-test performance was lower than pre-test:

http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=971328

https://goo.gl/DIsw8W

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this really applies to the situation at hands: the students did not only not do better at the question afterward, they did way worse. It could have more to do with the effect of the perception of difficulty (midterms being perceived as easier than final exams) on its resolution. $\endgroup$ – Benoît Kloeckner Jun 7 '16 at 20:37
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I have not read this paper. My assumption is that this is an issue of retention and exam mpreparation among the students. At the time of the midterm, the topic would be fresh. At exam time, the newer topics were fresher and the old stuff had not been retained. This effect can be mitigated by teaching strategies that help students to retain. - rereading notes (5 times per page in a 2 week period) - practicing questions from earlier in the course -etc.

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