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An analysis of 44 commercially available EFL textbooks found that it is common for textbooks to present learners with exercises on phrasal verbs without first providing relevant input to help them. In these cases, the learners are likely to resort to trial-and-error and are then expected to learn from feedback. We report an experiment conducted with Japanese EFL students (N=140) in which we compare the effectiveness of such a trial-and-error method with a retrieval procedure in which students first study a set of phrasal verbs and then complete an exercise. Scores on both an immediate and a one-week delayed post-test suggest superiority of retrieval over the trial-and-error procedure, where, despite the provision of feedback, 25% of the wrong exercise responses were reproduced in the delayed post-test.
Citation of this paper:
Strong, B., & Boers, F. (2018). The Error in Trial and Error: Exercises on Phrasal Verbs. TESOL Quarterly.