Retrieval Practice: How to get Students Using It

Written by Makeda Cole

Part 2 of a 3-part article, stay tuned for part-1 and part-3.

With the approaching exam season, many teachers and school leaders will be anxiously anticipating for students to successfully recall the vast proportion of taught academic material during their exams. This is a gross misconception about the nature of memory that we must make effort to unlearn and make time to grasp the lessons from cognitive psychology. Learnt information is not equally stored in memory but rather it is organised and stored into levels for processing different types of information, which can be influenced by how it is taught (Craik and Lockhart, 1972). For school leaders to work with, rather than against the brain, it becomes imperative for schools to incorporate memory strengthening techniques birthed through and tested by cognitive psychology. Active use of these strategies can maximise effectiveness of information recall and positively impact pupil performance. Commitment to modelling different learning styles can serve as demonstration for students to engage in independent learning and memory retrieval practice. Tricia Taylor guides us through her 3-key steps, where she details examples of retrieval practises for maximising pupil learning. As a school leadership consultant for over 20 years, Tricia encourages leaders to model behaviour and engage students with a variety of memory techniques, to explore and choose strategies best suited for them. Through modelling, leaders can engage students to take interest in reviewing their own learning through memory retrieval practice suited to learning style.

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Craik, F. I., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior11(6), 671-684.

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