Do I need to change my textbook?

No! Retrieval practice works with any textbook materials, especially those that come with practice questions. In our research, we used teachers' textbook materials and we consistently found that retrieval practice was better for learning than was re-reading or re-studying textbook material without retrieval practice. In other words, we did not need to change the instructors textbooks, course materials, or curricula in order to demonstrate large benefits from retrieval practice on learning.

Retrieval practice is a very flexible learning tool that you can use with any materials; you don't have to change your curriculum. Simply adapt your classroom materials to serve as practice retrieval questions.

 

Do I need to change my style of teaching?

No! You can keep your style of teaching exactly the same. We simply suggest that you insert retrieval practice activities during or after your lessons to improve students' learning and metacognition. Retrieval practice activities can be completely separate from your teaching and lectures, meaning that retrieval practice can be a stand-alone activity. You can teach and use your typical activities in exactly the same way as you have been doing.

 

If I spend time using retrieval practice, I can't cover as much material.

Retrieval practice doesn't take more classroom time - it involves using classroom time more effectively and efficiently. Think about the activities you currently use in class: are students using their "time on task" effectively? How can you be sure that students are learning when you present material (especially if students are re-reading or taking notes)? Research demonstrates that students learn during retrieval practice, and retain very little from typical classroom practices such as lecturing. 

Consider swapping less effective activities with retrieval practice strategies. You'll spend the same amount of time teaching, but your strategies will be more effective and efficient.

 

What are some challenges you've encountered? We want to know!