An analysis of life span memory identifies those variables that affect losses in recall and recognition of the content of high school algebra and geometry courses. Even in the absence of further rehearsal activities, individuals who take college-level mathematics courses at or above the level of calculus have minimal losses of high school algebra for half a century. Individuals who performed equally well in the high school course but took no college mathematics courses reduce performance to near chance levels during the same period. In contrast, the best predictors of test perform ance (e.g., Scholastic A ptitude T est scores and grades) have trivial effects on the rate of performance decline. Pedagogical implications for life span maintenance of knowledge are derived and discussed.Bahrick, Hall, and Baker have a brand-new book out on long-term retention.
Lifetime M aintenance of High School M athem atics Content
Harry P. Bahrick and Lynda K. Hall
Journal of Experimental Psychology
1991, Vol. 120, No. 1, 20-33