3 ways to help students access their knowledge

Learning seems like a simple process. The information goes in (encoding), the learner attempts to commit information to memory (storage), and then the learner tries to recall the lesson (access). Even though the ability to recall and apply the knowledge is critical, teachers spend the majority of class time focused on getting the information in. During the edWebinar “Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning,” Pooja K. Agarwal, Ph.D., cognitive scientist and founder of RetrievalPractice.org, and Patrice M. Bain, Ed.S., educational specialist, veteran teacher, and author, discussed their research into the benefits of retrieval practice and emphasizing the third step of the learning equation. When educators help students learn how to access their knowledge in low-stakes environments, the presenters said, they help students improve their long-term educational recall and performance.

Based on years of research, retrieval practice reverses the typical classroom dynamic. Instead of cramming information in, students learn how to access and pull it out. While this is what a traditional assessment does—asks students to retrieve what they are supposed to have learned—retrieval practice is more frequent and lower stakes. It can be as simple as the teacher asking the class to write down three things they learned the day before or to draw one parallel between a previous lesson and the next one. The idea is that by asking students to consistently access information, the odds increase that they will transfer the knowledge to their long-term memory.

3 strategies to enhance retrieval
Although the idea behind retrieval practice isn’t complicated, educators often ask Agarwal and Bain how to begin incorporating the method in their classroom. The presenters recommended three basic strategies.…Read More