Previewing Beats Reviewing: How the Timing of Additional Instruction Affects Achievement
To achieve mastery, students often need repeated exposure to academic material. While the efficacy of increasing instruction time is well-established, there has been little research on the timing of extra help. Working with classroom teachers, we hypothesized that providing students with a preview, rather than a review, of lesson material increases achievement by buoying confidence. To investigate this hypothesis, we conducted a virtual laboratory experiment in which adults (N = 901) watched an asynchronous lesson on a novel math topic paired with either a preview or a review of the topic. Compared to those who received a review of the lesson, participants who were randomly assigned to a preview (of identical content and duration) increased in self-efficacy and performed better on a post-test. Mediation analyses indicated that the benefit of previewing was partially mediated by increases in self-efficacy. These findings suggest that previews of academic material, rather than reviews, may increase student motivation and achievement.