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Does Self-Efficacy Contribute to the Retrieval Practice Effect?

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posted on 01.12.2019, 00:00 by Andrea N. Frankenstein
The retrieval practice effect is a memory benefit for information that is tested or retrieved one or more times before a final test. This memory improvement is seen when compared to instances when information is simply re-read or re-studied prior to final test. The benefits of retrieval practice are robust, extending to different types of learning materials (e.g., word pairs, text passages, lecture videos) and different settings (e.g., lab, classroom, online). There are several potential explanations for why retrieval practice benefits memory over re-studying, most of which hinge on cognitive mechanisms. However, it is possible that other, social-cognitive factors could also underlie this memory effect. One such factor could be self-efficacy, which has been shown to be positively related to memory performance. This study sought to replicate previous work showing a retrieval practice effect and examined whether a social-cognitive factor, self-efficacy, could partially explain improved performance due to retrieval practice. Final test performance for the retrieval practice and re-study conditions were compared, and self-efficacy scores were analyzed to determine if they mediated the relationship between condition (re-study, retrieval practice) and final test performance. Overall, there was a significant retrieval practice effect, with the retrieval practice group scoring significantly higher on the final test than the re-study group. This finding replicates prior work showing the memory benefits of retrieval practice. Self-efficacy was not a significant mediator of the retrieval practice effect. However, change in self-efficacy was positively related to final test performance: the larger the increase in self-efficacy, the better memory performance on the final test. These findings are in line with previous work showing that higher self-efficacy is associated with better memory. While self-efficacy was not found to be a significant mediator in this study, further research can focus on the effects of direct manipulations of self-efficacy on memory performance.



Leshikar, Eric D.


Szpunar, Karl K.



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

MA, Master of Arts

Committee Member

C e r v o n e , D a n i e l P .

Submitted date

December 2019

Thesis type




Issue date


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