The effects of retrieval versus study on analogical problem solving

Daniel Corral, Shana K. Carpenter, Kyle J. St. Hilaire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report four experiments, wherein subjects engaged in either problem-solving practice or example study. First, subjects studied an example problem. Subjects in the example study condition then studied two more analogous problems, whereas subjects in the problem-solving practice conditions solved two such problems, each followed by correct-answer feedback. In Experiment 1, subjects returned 1 week later and completed a posttest on an analogous problem; in Experiments 2–4, subjects completed this posttest immediately after the learning phase. Additionally, Experiment 3 consisted of a control condition, wherein subjects solved these same problems, but did not receive feedback. Experiments 3 and 4 also included a mixed study condition, wherein subjects studied two examples and then solved one with feedback during the learning phase. Across four experiments, we found that the training conditions (i.e., problem-solving practice, mixed, and example study) performed equally well on the posttest. Moreover, subjects in the training conditions outperformed control subjects on the posttest, indicating that the null findings were due to the training conditions learning and transferring their knowledge equally well. After the posttest in Experiment 4, subjects were asked to solve repeated problems from the learning phase. Subjects in the problem-solving practice and mixed study conditions performed better on repeated problems than subjects in the example study condition, indicating that they better learned the solution strategies for these problems than subjects in the example study condition. Nevertheless, this benefit was insufficient to produce differential transfer of learning among the training conditions on the posttest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1954-1965
Number of pages12
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Analogical problem solving
  • Concept learning
  • Example study
  • Retrieval practice
  • Transfer of learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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