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Wednesday, June 22 • 16:45 - 18:00
POSTER.58 - Collaborative Testing in the University Classroom

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Although testing is usually conceived of as an opportunity to assess what students know, it can also be seen as a learning opportunity for students, as it provides additional practice with the material to be learned. We aimed to establish the impact of two different types of tests (individual, collaborative) on student learning in the applied setting of a university statistics course. Collaborative testing (completing tests in pairs or small groups) has become an oft-recommended approach in post-secondary education settings (e.g., Gilley & Clarkston, 2014) under the assumption that it benefits learning and student engagement. Indeed, final grades in courses comprising collaborative testing are often higher than those in courses using individual testing. However, it remains unclear whether collaborative testing benefits long-term individual learning. That is, although grades on collaborative tests are often higher than those on individual tests, improved performance may not transfer beyond the collaborative activity. Thus, increased final grades in courses using collaborative testing would not reflect improved understanding by individual students, but would be inflated by test grades where many heads had worked together to solve a problem. We tested knowledge transfer after collaborative testing in a 3rd-year course. We compared performance on midterm exams following tutorial practice on course material through a) collaborative practice tests and b) individual practice tests. This was done using a cross-over design, such that students who completed collaborative tests before the first midterm completed individual tests before the second midterm, and vice versa. Our results indicated no clear benefit of collaborative testing to the long-term learning of individual students. Qualitative data indicated a mix of student opinion regarding the collaborative testing approach.


Gilley, B. H., & Clarkston, B. (2014). Collaborative testing: Evidence of learning in a controlled in-class study of undergraduate students. Research and Teaching, 43, 83-91.


Heather Poole

McMaster University
Heather Poole is a postdoctoral fellow at the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Heather's background is in experimental psychology. |

Additional Authors

Geoff Norman

Geoff Norman is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at McMaster University.

Scott Watter

Scott Watter is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University.

Wednesday June 22, 2016 16:45 - 18:00
Atrium, Physics & Astronomy Building Western University

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