This is how students really feel about retrieval practice

What do students think about retrieval practice?

Just ask them. Yes, it's that simple.

Here's how my college students reacted yesterday when I asked them about retrieval practice. (Spoiler alert: They love them – and literally ask for more.)

P.S. Join me for workshops on Powerful Teaching in Chicago and St. Louis this summer!


Students love retrieval practice!


I teach college students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. (No, I'm not a musician. I teach undergraduate musicians about the fascinating world of psychological science, cognitive science, and neuroscience.)

At the start of class each week, students complete a retrieval practice – all short answer, only 2% of their grade each. (I've written more about my own approach here and also in my new book, Powerful Teaching. I practice what I preach!)

Below is a photo of what retrieval practice looks like in my classroom. Does it look like students are taking a test? Yes. Are they actually taking a test? No!

MVIMG_20190709_120758 small.jpg

Yesterday, out of curiosity, I asked my summer students this question:

"Do you think our weekly retrieval practices are helping you remember information from class? Why or why not?"

Here are a few thoughts my students shared:

  • Definitely! Exploring in my own words is really useful!

  • I internalize things better when I'm engaged and retrieval practice gives extra value to the information I learn.

  • I was just telling my roommate about them and how I wish all my classes did them.


Wow! Students might look puzzled at the beginning of the semester when you tell them about retrieval practice and desirable difficulties. But soon, they'll see the value in retrieval practice – and even ask for more.

Want to know what your students think about their own learning? Just ask!


Power Up with Powerful Teaching


ICYMI, here's a roundup of all of the buzz about the book Powerful Teaching: