How to not screw up retrieval practice

A Chemical Orthodoxy

This is the first blog in the CogSciSci symposium on retrieval practice in the classroom. You should read the introduction to this symposium here before reading this article. 

Retrieval Practice in the Classroom: Lethal Mutation?

In the introduction to this series, it was noted that retrieval practice (RP) can go wrong and is in danger of lethal mutation. In this entry I’m going to look at how RP can be implemented in the classroom to try and anticipate and mitigate some of the concerns raised. 

In the introduction, Coe’s non-exhaustive list of potential pitfalls with RP was noted:

  1. Teachers might generate retrieval questions that focus solely on factual recall (these questions are easier to generate) rather than requiring any higher-order thinking.
  2. Questions might be too easy and boost confidence without providing real challenge, which is likely to be a key ingredient for generating the kind of learning hoped for.
  3. Teachers…

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