Using Technology to Promote Student Ownership of Retrieval Practice

Using Technology to Promote Student Ownership of Retrieval Practice

Steven Courchesne (Framingham State University, USA) and Stacy M. Cohen (Framingham State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1770-3.ch003


This chapter discusses ways to practice retrieval and how to support those activities with three education technologies. Retrieval practice, in which the learner attempts to recall information from memory, is a research-proven strategy for teachers and students to improve long-term retention of learning. However, research in the United States shows that many students mistakenly believe that rereading is a more effective study practice than retrieval and that self-testing is only useful for assessing their learning progress. Teachers can model retrieval practice strategies while gradually scaffolding students towards independent use of these strategies through guided practice and feedback. The ultimate goal is for students to independently employ retrieval practice when they encounter new learning environments. The authors recommend a strategy for facilitating retrieval practice with educational technologies such as Quizlet, Popplet, and Google Docs, each of which allows teachers and students to perform, share, and collaborate on retrieval tasks.
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When it comes to studying, there is a disconnect between what cognitive science tells us is effective and how students actually study. The majority of college students in the United States are likely to report that re-reading the textbook is the principal method they use to prepare for a test (Karpicke, Butler, & Roediger, 2009). This method involves trying to commit the information into memory. However, research shows that the act of retrieving information, or getting information out of memory, is a more effective strategy for promoting retention of information (Agarwal, 2019; Blunt & Karpicke, 2014; Karpicke & Blunt, 2011; Hartwig & Dunlosky, 2012; Agerwal, Karpicke, Kang, Roediger, & McDermott, 2008; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006). This strategy is called retrieval practice. The chapter will elaborate more specifically on what the research has found and will discuss how teachers can use a selection of technologies to scaffold and promote students’ independent adoption of retrieval practice when they study independently.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flashcard: A card that includes related information on each side. It is typically used as a learning aid.

Retention: The commitment of information to long-term memory so that it can be retrieved later.

Concept Map: A diagram in which related concepts are linked to each other.

Summarizing: Act of relating the main ideas in a brief account or statement.

Low-Stakes Quizzing: A form of testing that has little to no impact on a student’s grade.

Metacognition: A process of reflecting on and directing one’s own thinking.

Retrieval Practice: A learning strategy in which the learner recalls information from memory.

Testing Effect: Research finding that long-term memory is often increased when some of the learning period is devoted to retrieving the to-be-remembered information. The effect is also sometimes referred to as retrieval practice.

Scaffolding: A teaching strategy whereby a teacher initially models a task and provides support, and then gradually removes learning supports till the student can perform a task independently.

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