Can testing benefit students with ADHD more than studying?
For individuals with learning disabilities, there is no one-size-fits all solution.
Two recent studies illustrate this point perfectly, as both investigated the benefits of a common technique—the testing effect—with different results.
The testing effect—a first line therapy for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—involves initial teaching or learning followed by self-testing to increase the recall of information.
An estimated 3% to 7% of school-aged children are diagnosed with ADHD, and it was previously believed that children “grow out” of the disorder as they age. Recent research, however, suggests that as many as 2% to 4% of college students and adult learners struggle with ADHD, which can decrease academic focus and performance.
College students with ADHD often don’t utilize effective study strategies, resulting in lower grades and graduation rates compared to their peers, according to Laura E Knouse, PhD, assistant professor of psychology and a licensed clinical psychologist at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Previous research that has evaluated the testing effect on information recall has not specifically looked at the benefits to learners with ADHD.
Although 2 recent studies examined the benefit of this intervention on students with and without ADHD, the results are conflicting, resulting in a call for further research into learning tools that could be applied to help students overcome their learning disabilities.
In one study out of the University of Richmond, 100 college students were challenged to memorize 2 sets of 48 words. A quarter of the students involved in the study had ADHD. Researchers introduced the students to the words on a computer screen, then 1 cohort restudied the list while the other were tested on how much of the list they could recall after initial teaching without restudying. An exam was given 2 days later, and the students who learned the words initially then restudied were able to recall 35% of the words, while students that learned the words then tested themselves recalled 45% of the words.