These references may help.

Cognitive psychology/brain-based learning approaches discuss this.  An accessible article (with a number of references including the three that follow):

Miller, M. D. (2011). What College Teachers Should Know About Memory: A Perspective From Cognitive Psychology. College Teaching, 59(3), 117-122. doi:10.1080/87567555.2011.580636 
Downloaded from 
"Conclusions: The Essential Take-Home Messages For College Teachers... 
4. Frequent testing is not an interruption to the learning process; rather, it is central to it. 
For reasons that have now been thoroughly explored from both theoretical and practical perspectives, students should engage with
material frequently and in ways that require them to retrieve material from memory. The precise format and presentation of these testing opportunities is relatively unimportant; the important thing is that they are time well spent."

McDaniel, M. A., H. L. Roediger III, & K. B. McDermott. (2007). Generalizing test-enhanced learning from the laboratory to the classroom.
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 14:200–6.
Downloaded from    
From the abstract: "Test-enhanced learning refers to the fact that taking an initial test on studied material enhances its later retention
relative to simply studying the material and then taking a final test. ... In addition, frequent testing probably has the indirect positive effects of keeping students motivated and leading them to space out periods of study."

Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011, February 11). Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science, DOI:10.1126/science.1199327.
Karpicke, J. D., & H. L. Roediger, III. (2008, February 15). The critical importance of retrieval for learning. Science 319:966–8.

Svinicki, M., & McKeachie, W. J. (2011).  McKeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
p.p. 83-84.  "an early test gets students started--they don't delay their studying until the conventional midterm examination--and it will help you to identify problems early while they are still remediable. ...The amount and frequency of tests should depend on the background of your students and the nature of the content.  In a first-year course in an area new to students, frequent short tests early in the term facilitate learning... less frequent testing as learners become more experienced."

Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.
p. 150.  "testing and grading are not incidental acts that come at the end of teaching but powerful aspects of education that have an enormous influence on the entire enterprise of helping and encouraging students to learn"

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (2000)   (more focused on K-12) 
p. 78, "In order for learners to gain insight into their learning and their understanding, frequent feedback is critical: students need to monitor their learning and actively evaluate their strategies and their current levels of understanding."


Alan Craig    
Georgia Perimeter College    
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-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Saundra Y McGuire
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 1:42 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Relationship between number of exams in a course and performance

Hello Listers,

Does anyone know of research on this?  I'm working with a department that wants data that shows that student learning improves when exams are given more frequently than one midterm (worth 1/3 of the course grade), and a final exam (worth 2/3 of the course grade).  


Saundra McGuire, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Learning, Teaching, and Retention Professor, Department of Chemistry 135A T Boyd Hall Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA 70803
225.578.6749 phone
Saundra Y. McGuire, Ph.D.
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