Application-based Instruction: Are there Long-Term Benefits for Students?

Standard memory research has shown that memory accuracy decreases over time (Ebbinghaus, 1885; Murre & Dros, 2015) and that the largest drop in memory occurs immediately after learning. This impact of natural memory loss can be lessened by spacing out learning or exposure to material (Cepeda et al., 2006). Importantly, when looking into the realm of education-based learning specifically, memory has been found to be improved when application-based instruction methods are used during initial exposure (Daniels & Braasch, 2013; Lakin & Wichman, 2005). In these studies, students were exposed to application-based exercises in classroom settings across multiple disciplines (i.e., statistics and social psychology). They found that these application-based exercised increased transfer ability of students (2013), increased their likelihood to relate material to other real-life examples (2013), improved their judgements of usefulness of courses (2005), believed they learned more (2005), and had better overall grades in the course (2005). Importantly, in neither of these studies, or other studies we are familiar with, did they test the long-term effects of students who were exposed to application-based instruction and/or exercises. This study is seeking to answer that question using student who have already taken Consumer Psychology that were taught by these researchers.

data showing application based instruction increases memory for classroom information

Figure 1.
Preliminary data suggests trends for information that was taught in a “basic” or definitional way is forgotten more overtime, compared to application-taught material. This trend is not being solely driven by the grade that the student got in the class either; this is demonstrated with the size of the dot representing the data (i.e., larger dots mean a higher grade in the course).

Associated Presentations/Publications

Simonson, T.L. (2022, October). Application-based Instruction: Are there Long-term Benefits for Students? Poster presented at Mid-Western Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio.