Yes, retrieval practice improves more than just memorization

This week, we want to address the single most frequent question we're asked: "Do these strategies improve more than just memorization?" Read on for our answer, based on years of cognitive science research and classroom practice. (Sneak peek: Download our free Transfer Guide for more info!)

Are you using retrieval practice, spacing, and feedback in your teaching? How's it going? Any questions we can help out with? Comment below and let us know!

Retrieval Practice is More Than Memorization


We've said it before and we'll say it again: Yes, strategies like retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving, and feedback improve more than just memorization!

Whether you're new to or just joining us, you may be wondering, “Retrieval practice sounds great, but it still sounds pretty basic.” Over the years, we’ve had the same concerns, too. Fortunately, in the lab and in the classroom, research demonstrates that these strategies improve students’ transfer of knowledge, ranging from a deep understanding of mitosis to effectively resuscitating someone using CPR. Simply bringing information to mind helps solidify knowledge and transfer it to new content and situations.

Transfer happens when students take something familiar and apply it to something unfamiliar. In the same way, what students learn inside the classroom should be applied outside the classroom – the hallmark of deep understanding and flexible knowledge.

As educators, we know that boosting learning beyond the memorization of facts is critical. And that’s why we advocate for the use of these strategies – because decades of research demonstrate that they improve more than just memorization – much more.

Download our free Transfer Guide, written by cognitive scientists, for key research and teaching strategies to boost students' transfer of knowledge. Getting students to transfer what they know isn't always easy. Check out our Transfer Guide and unleash our research-based tips in your classroom.