16.10.2018 • 4 minutes
Retrieval practice is a well-known learning method that can help students study more effectively by simply trying to recall information that has been previously stored in long-term memory. It is straightforward, easily implemented, and can greatly improve learning, because:
“Calling information to mind” means bringing it into our working memory. So, to understand retrieval practice, we have to understand how memories are made, which was the topic of a previous article.
How long-term memories are made
In short, we create long-lasting memories by linking new information (in our working memory) to knowledge we already possess (in our long-term memory), a process called active learning. Practicing active memory retrieval can improve memory and boost learning.
Cognitive scientists have found that, instead of highlighting parts of a text or taking notes, students can improve memory and learning more effectively through retrieval practice. In essence, after reading new material for the first time, students try to recall the most important information it contained without looking at either the text or their notes. Once they have completed the retrieval, they check the material for feedback on how accurate and complete their retrieval was.
Trying to recall information may sound more difficult than re-reading a text or looking at notes, which it is, but that very struggle to recall is what improves our memory. Here are 4 reasons why:
Content drawn from “The Science of Learning — What Every Teacher Should Know”, EdX: https://www.edx.org
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