As the author of a book solely dedicated to retrieval practice I often get asked questions by teachers, students and parents about this teaching and learning strategy. People are also keen to discuss retrieval practice with me and share classroom resources that they have used for recall, whether that be one of my original ideas or they have created their own. I am obviously very interested in this area of cognitive psychology and as part of the writing process for my book I carried out a significant amount of reading and research. During these conversations about retrieval practice I often reference and share the works of others so I have decided to put all those suggestions and recommendations in one place, here on my blog!
Flash cards are a very useful revision activity for many reasons. They work across all subjects, they can be used with the recall of facts, dates, quotes, definitions and more. They are a very simple technique for learners to use – low effort but high impact. As well as being an effective learning strategy flash cards are also popular with students. In a research survey carried out in 2018 more than 50% of college students reported that they do use flash cards to study.
This has been a very big week for many educators and students as we return to school, either the physical or virtual classroom. Covid-19 has caused global disruption and education wasn’t immune from this. Obviously, the health and safety of our students is always the priority but teachers around the world have been working extremely hard to ensure learning and progress can still continue despite the challenges we faced.
I am a regular user of Quizizz and it has been my firm favourite for low stakes quizzing in the classroom for a few years now. My claim that it is the best online website/app for low stakes quizzing is simply my opinion. I have no connection or affiliation with Quizizz, this is not a sponsored post. As always context is key. For example, if a school has limited access to technology in classrooms then I would suggest Plickers as the best option. If a teacher is looking to carry out a more formal end of unit assessment (this is different to low stakes retrieval practice) then Google Forms could be the best option.
The TPACCK model first featured in my book Love To Teach: Research and Resources (2018) but it is based on the research and work of others. I felt there was something missing from the previous models that I wanted to develop further. The feedback to the TPACCK model, from people that have read my book or attended presentations I have delivered, where I discuss this model, has been very positive with different teachers and leaders telling me that they have applied this in their schools to support and shape teaching and professional learning.
In recent years retrieval practice (combined with spaced practice) has completely changed my teaching practice – for the better. I have seen many of the benefits of Retrieval Practice first hand, which go far beyond the ability to recall information from long term memory. I have fully embraced the research and this evidence-informed strategy, as have many others around the world. However, there are still some classroom teachers and students that are quite sceptical and wary about the hype surrounding retrieval practice.
What do all great teachers have in common? Likely, many attributes and qualities but all great teachers never stop learning. I am a very strong advocate for teachers taking ownership of their own professional development and learning because when I did this it improved my teaching practice and many aspects of my life. Taking responsibility of your own professional development can enhance, and eventually even transform, your teaching practice.
I recently attended a presentation, at the ResearchEd conference in Dubai, listening to teacher, leader and author Robin Macpherson discuss cognitive psychology. In his presentation, which you can read more about here, Robin posed some very interesting questions that I have been thinking about and reflecting on. Robin made the point that there has been an increased interest in cognitive psychology amongst educators in recent years and this is certainly true. However, some of the psychology linked to memory that we are now discussing, sharing, reading and writing about is not actually new at all.
It can be argued that Dual Coding is a teaching and learning strategy that teachers have been using for years and years. Yet the term and the discussion around this approach has only become widespread in recent years (despite the work of Allan Paivio with his dual coding theory dating back to 1971 and he states that dual coding has its roots in the practical use of imagery as a memory aid 2500 years ago!). There are now lots of videos, blog posts, podcasts and presentations shared by educators about how dual coding can be used effectively in the classroom.
I didn’t fully engage with educational research at the start of my career but in recent years it has transformed my teaching practice and further built my confidence in the classroom. As a trainee teacher I was told that educational research informed us about VAK learning styles and the idea of the learning pyramid! This so-called research is now better known by many in education as edu-myths, theories that have been debunked because they are not supported by the science and research as initially claimed. This post isn’t about debunking myths but if that is something you are interested in then I can highly recommend the work of Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner and visiting the popular blog by US educator Blake Harvard.