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Researchers from Kent State Say Practice Tests Improve Memory

Although most people assume that tests are a way to evaluate learning, a wealth of research has shown that testing can actually improve learning, according to two researchers from Kent State University. Katherine Rawson, associate professor in Kent State's Department of Psychology, and former Kent State graduate student, Mary Pyc, publish their research findings in the Oct. 15, 2010, issue of the journal Science.

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Katherine Rawson works with a student

"Taking practice tests - particularly ones that involve attempting to recall something from memory - can drastically increase the likelihood that you'll be able to remember that information again later," Rawson says. "Given that hundreds of experiments have been conducted to establish the effects of testing on learning, it's surprising that we know very little about why testing improves memory."

In the article titled, "Why Testing Improves Memory: Mediator Effectiveness Hypothesis," Rawson and Pyc reported an experiment indicating that at least one reason why testing is good for memory is that testing supports the use of more effective encoding strategies. 

Rawson offers this illustration. "Suppose you were trying to learn foreign language vocabulary," she says. "In our research, we typically use Swahili-English word pairs, such as 'wingu - cloud.' To learn this item, you could just repeat it over and over to yourself each time you studied it, but it turns out that's not a particularly effective strategy for committing something to memory. 

"A more effective strategy is to develop a keyword that connects the foreign language word with the English word. 'Wingu' sounds like 'wing,' birds have wings and fly in the 'clouds.' Of course, this works only as well as the keyword you come up with. For a keyword to be any good, you have to be able to remember your keyword when you're given the foreign word later. Also, for a keyword to be good, you have to be able to remember the English word once you remember the keyword." 

The research done by Rawson and Pyc showed that practice tests lead learners to develop better keywords. People come up with more effective mental hints or keywords, called mediators, when they are being tested than when they are studying only. 

Rawson joined Kent State's faculty in the fall of 2004. Her grant-funded research, undertaken with colleague John Dunlosky, Department of Psychology professor and director of experimental training, seeks to identify effective study strategies and study schedules for students to learn classroom material in a durable and efficient manner.

Earlier this year, Rawson traveled to the White House and received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Nominated by the U.S. Department of Education, Rawson was one of 100 beginning researchers named by President Barack Obama to receive this prestigious award.

Pyc received her master's and doctoral degrees from Kent State. She worked in Rawson's cognitive psychology lab. Pyc's research interests involve promoting student learning, including when retrieval practice is beneficial for memory, evaluating theoretical accounts for why retrieval practice is beneficial for memory, how students self-regulate learning, and how students' metacognition is related to their self-regulated learning. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University.

For more information about Kent State's Department of Psychology, visit Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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Share the Passion for United Way This Week: Volunteer

Volunteers are still needed to staff the concession stands at Kent State's home football games. A percent of the proceeds will go to Kent State United Way Special Events.

news briefs united way football
See a great game while supporting a great cause.

Last football season, 40 people volunteered and earned $1,408.58 for the United Way of Portage County.

Eight to 10 volunteers are needed per game. Volunteers need to arrive an hour and a half to two hours before the game begins and should expect to be there for five to seven hours.

Volunteers are needed at the following games:

  • Saturday, Oct. 30, at 2 p.m. (Josh Cribbs Day)
  • Saturday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 26, at 2 p.m.

Those interested in volunteering should contact Barbara Boltz at or 330-672-1306 at least one week prior to the game at which you are interested in volunteering.

Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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Kent State Continues Green Efforts With New Sustainability Courses

Businesses have been changing the way they operate in order to preserve the environment and satisfy consumer demands. From wind and solar energy, to energy-efficient production and shipping, companies such as Walmart and Microsoft have adopted new measures to ensure their businesses are environmentally friendly. To facilitate this need and educate future employees, Kent State is continuing its sustainability efforts in spring 2011 with the introduction of two new courses with a focus on sustainability.

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The Business Case for Going Green: How Companies Are Finding Prosperity in Saving the Planet

The Business Case for Going Green will be offered in both undergraduate and graduate sections. The course will be taught by Adjunct Professor David DuBois. Students from all majors are encouraged to participate.

"Going green is what the next two decades is going to be about," DuBois says. "Consumers are starting to be more sustainable, and they are demanding that businesses do the same."

Students will have the opportunity to learn about the social, economic and environmental tradeoffs of going green. Course curriculum will also include green businesses, wind and solar energy, sustainable agriculture, waste management and permaculture design.

The course will not only give students the opportunity to learn more about business sustainability, but it will also provide them with a career advantage in job and internship interviews.

"Sustainability is a rapidly growing field in all types of organizations," DuBois says. "Students that are informed about green practices will bring value to future employers."

DuBois is an organizational psychologist whose interests focus on green business and city scale sustainability. He consults with leading green businesses and conducts research on the social issues of sustainability, including organizational strategy, leadership, marketing and program design.  

For more information about The Business Case for Going Green contact David DuBois at

Sustainability Awareness Through Film

Sustainability Awareness Through Film will be offered in an undergraduate section through the Honors College. The course will be taught collaboratively by Assistant Professor Hollee Becker, Associate Professor Cathy DuBois and Associate Professor Verna Fitzsimmons.

Students will have the opportunity to view a different film each week that focuses on a particular global concern. They will discuss the merits of the film, the extent of the environmental concern and possible solutions for the problem.

"There is hardly a field of interest that isn't already affected by the need for sustainable solutions," Becker says. "With awareness of global environmental challenges, students will be more prepared to become leaders in their chosen careers."

The course will also provide students with a better understanding of world environmental conditions that will enable them to think dialogue and strategize plans for a positive future, Becker says.

Becker teaches Environmental Technologies, Structures and Design Studio in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

DuBois is with the Department of Management and Information Systems in the College of Business Administration.

Fitzsimmons is involved in applied research in several areas including: rapid prototyping, process improvement, quality and safety management systems, and time-based and lean manufacturing with the College of Technology.

For more information about Sustainability Awareness Through Film contact Becker at

Kent State faculty who want to connect with others who are involved in sustainability-related research and coursework should contact Cathy DuBois at

By Brittany Macchiarola

Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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Follow President Lefton in the Community From the President's Page

Did you know that there is a page on that you can visit to learn more about Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton?

The president's page resides at There, you can review past issues of In a Flash, the president's weekly messages to the university community, speeches and strategic initiatives.

The page also features a photo essay, which is updated each month, with a few of the president's favorite images that capture some of the events he attends or hosts on behalf of Kent State.

To view the photo essay, go to this link:

Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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It's Time for Final Grading for H1 and W1 Fall 2010 Courses

Online final grading for courses meeting in H1 part of the fall term (Aug. 30 to Oct. 20) begins Oct. 20 via FlashFAST. Grading for courses meeting in W1 part of the term (Aug. 30 to Oct. 15) began Oct. 15. The deadline for both H1 and W1 courses grading submissions is midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

Grading is also now available for any fall 2010 course section that was flexibly scheduled and has already ended.

FlashFAST is accessible from any Internet-capable computer that has the cookies function enabled. To access FlashFAST, log in to FlashLine at and click the Faculty & Advisor Tools tab. The link to grade rosters is located in the Faculty & Advisor Toolbox, under the Submit Grades heading.

Grades Processing Tips and FAQ may be found on the Office of the University Registrar's website at Any faculty member needing personalized instruction on submitting their grades via FlashFAST should contact their campus registrar's office during normal business hours for assistance.

Also, as a helpful tip, it is recommended that you clean out your cookie and cache files regularly to help your computer run faster, and to potentially restore and/or improve your access to FlashFAST and/or FlashLine by improving your connection to the server. Our Helpdesk is prepared to offer assistance with these issues. Please contact them at 330-672-HELP (4357) for one-on-one assistance and technical issues.

Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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Alumni Association Seeking Experts to Share Insights at Upcoming Event

The Kent State Alumni Association invites you to participate in our first Alumni College program, scheduled for Saturday, May 21, 2011, from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Throughout the day-long event, educational sessions will be offered to encourage alumni to be lifelong learners.

The Alumni Association is searching for presenters who can provide fresh insights on topics ranging from healthy living, the economy, history, politics and more. While all alumni will be invited to attend the event, our target audience will be alumni who graduated before 1976 (age 55 and older). Sessions will be designed to be relevant, interesting, engaging and fun. 

If you are interested in presenting a 45-minute session to alumni, complete and submit a form that can be accessed here: Alumni College Proposal Form . Return competed forms to Billy Bernard, graduate assistant, by Oct. 29, via e-mail to or fax to 330-672-4723.

Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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Human Resources Associate Vice President Receives Book Award

A book on diversity in higher education co-authored by Alvin Evans, Kent State University associate vice president for Human Resources, has received the prestigious 2010 Kathryn G. Hansen Publication Award from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

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Evans, with the award

The award was presented at the organization's annual conference held last month in New Orleans.  The award recognizes a publication which has made a significant contribution to the field of human resources administration.

The book, Bridging the Diversity Divide: Globalization and Reciprocal Empowerment in Higher Education (published by Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, California), was co-written by Evans and Dr. Edna Chun, vice president for Human Resources and Equity at Broward College.  It focuses on building a concrete action plan for an inclusive campus environment.  "I am really pleased to be honored by CUPA which is the premier higher education HR professional organization," says Evans. "It also gives Kent State considerable visibility in the field of human resources administration and diversity. Under Kent State's leadership, the university has implemented many proactive plans and initiatives to bring about progressive change for cultural diversity and inclusion.

The book is a featured selection in's new affirmative action, Equal Employment Opportunity and diversity store, and is very favorably reviewed in several scholarly publications, including the Summer 2010 issue of The Review of Higher Education.

Evans and Chun previously received the Kathryn G. Hansen Publications Award for their book Are the Walls Really Down? Behavioral and Organizational Barriers to Faculty and Staff Diversity in Higher Education.

By Carla Wyckoff

Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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