Benefits from retrieval practice have been demonstrated scientifically for more than 100 years. Here are just a few brief articles and journal publications by cognitive scientists that describe current research on retrieval practice.
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Brief Articles by Cognitive Scientists
Strengthening the Student Toolbox: Study Strategies to Boost Learning by John Dunlosky, published by the American Federation of Teachers. (In this commentary, John Dunlosky condenses 100+ years of research on 10 specific learning strategies into only 21 pages. It's a superb resource for both educators and students who want a succinct review of cognitive research on retrieval practice and additional strategies from an expert. If you'd like to read the 55-page peer-reviewed journal article, which delves into greater detail about this research, it is available here.)
Ask the Cognitive Scientist: Retrieval Practice by Aubrey Francisco, published by Digital Promise. (In this commentary, the author interviews Henry L. Roediger about retrieval practice, improving deeper learning, and applying retrieval strategies in K-12 classrooms.)
A Powerful Way to Improve Learning and Memory by Jeffrey D. Karpicke, published by the American Psychological Association. (In this science brief, the author reviews retrieval practice research and provides tips for implementation in classrooms.)
Using Retrieval Practice to Help Students Learn by Cynthia Brame and Rachel Biel, published by the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. (In this article, the authors review research on optimal retrieval practice strategies: quiz format, feedback, benefits beyond memory, and more. They also provide tips for instructors and caveats to keep in mind.)
Research Articles from Peer-Reviewed Journals
Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning Than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping by Jeffrey D. Karpicke and Janell R. Blunt, published in the journal Science. (In this research article, the authors report a specific set of experiments in which they compared the effectiveness of retrieval practice vs. concept mapping with college students. Students spent the same amount of time taking quizzes as they did creating concept maps, yet retrieval practice significantly increased student exam performance. This study demonstrates that retrieval practice is more effective for improving learning than concept mapping, a commonly used educational tool.)
Integrating Cognitive Science and Technology Improves Learning in a STEM Classroom by Andrew C. Butler and colleagues, published in the journal Educational Psychology Review. (In this research article, the authors report a specific experiment in which retrieval practice and additional learning strategies were implemented in a college course on engineering. The use of a simple and inexpensive online tool for retrieval practice significantly increased student exam performance compared to standard classroom practices.)
The Importance of Seeing the Patient: Test-Enhanced Learning with Standardized Patients and Written Tests Improves Clinical Application of Knowledge by Douglas P. Larsen and colleagues, published in the journal Advances in Health Science Education. (In this research article, the authors report a specific experiment in which they compared the effectiveness of retrieval practice vs. studying with first-year medical students. Students' exam performance was significantly improved following retrieval practice, demonstrating that retrieval practice can be successfully implemented in medical education.)
Recent Research on Human Learning Challenges Conventional Instructional Strategies by Doug Rohrer and Hal Pashler, published in the journal Educational Researcher. (In this review article, the authors examine recent research on three effective learning strategies, including retrieval practice. The authors provide an excellent introduction to the theory, evidence, and implications for implementation for each strategy.
Do you have a recommendation for a book, article, or additional resource about retrieval practice? Please let us know!