Diminishing-cues retrieval practice: A memory-enhancing technique that works when regular testing doesn’t

Joshua L. Fiechter, Aaron S. Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retrieval practice has been shown to be a highly effective tool for enhancing memory, a fact that has led to major changes to educational practice and technology. However, when initial learning is poor, initial retrieval practice is unlikely to be successful and long-term benefits of retrieval practice are compromised or nonexistent. Here, we investigate the benefit of a scaffolded retrieval technique called diminishing-cues retrieval practice (Finley, Benjamin, Hays, Bjork, & Kornell, Journal of Memory and Language, 64, 289–298, 2011). Under learning conditions that favored a strong testing effect, diminishing cues and standard retrieval practice both enhanced memory performance relative to restudy. Critically, under learning conditions where standard retrieval practice was not helpful, diminishing cues enhanced memory performance substantially. These experiments demonstrate that diminishing-cues retrieval practice can widen the range of conditions under which testing can benefit memory, and so can serve as a model for the broader application of testing-based techniques for enhancing learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1868-1876
Number of pages9
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Human memory and learning
  • Memory
  • Retrieval cues and memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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