A couple of weeks ago, I received an email about a website all about “retrieval practice” and the research that supports the importance of this in every classroom, every day.
Pooja Agarwal and her colleagues are cognitive scientists, so they research why and how people learn, with a focus on how our brains work – how we think!
They’ve gathered together a collection of research papers, like a meta-analysis, and looked at how effective this strategy of “retrieval practice” might be for ensuring learning and memory of what we might want to learn.
This research collection is listed online, on their website, and provides considerable support for using retrieval practice to improve students’ learning. Many of the articles are fully referenced and most are available online, some through other websites. If you have trouble accessing any of the specific studies, send me an email and I will do my best to try to get you some access?
You can download a summary of their findings, and these are for various grades, different topic areas and across different countries. Overall their average effect size is 0.5 across all the studies. John Hattie’s Visible Learning work suggests that effect sizes should be at least 0.4, which he calls a “hinge point”. Hattie suggests that if effect size of research is below this, you might not use that strategy. You can check online, as some studies have much higher effect sizes than others, so you can determine which would be more worthwhile in your classroom.
Like every teacher’s program, this project is still continuing to improve and will over time add more and more research. So, it might be worth revisiting at some time in the future, or signing up to one of their email newsletters? These do include different strategies, and many are short and easy to implement in most classrooms!