Retrieval induced forgetting and enhancement in tertiary law examinations: are law students unique?
An important facet of human cognition is the ability to retrieve information accurately and in sufficient detail across a wide variety of domains. This is particularly relevant in the domain of school examinations. It has been well established that successful retrieval of momentarily wanted information depends to some extent on the inhibition of unwanted, competing information. This phenomenon is termed retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF). The authors report three experiments investigating RIF in simulated law school examinations by using legal materials analogous to those used in law courses. The results indicate that retrieval practice strategies involving answering a sub-set of topic-related questions may be detrimental to exam preparation. The resilience of RIF to attenuation was also demonstrated. Providing a potentially pertinent schema during the initial study phase was ineffective in reducing RIF. Intriguing anomalies in the data suggest that the unique requirements of different fields of knowledge may play a role in the effectiveness of particular retrieval manipulations.