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Retrieval Practice

Retrieval practice, also called The Testing Effect,  is one of the most important and foundational concepts in learning.  Retrieving information when we need it is the whole purpose of learning.  It's not what we put in our brains that is important, it is what we can get back out that matters.  
What is Retrieval Practice?

 Retrieval Practice which is also called The Testing Effect or even Test-enhanced Learning is the finding that when we focus learners on retrieving information from memory, this actually enhances and strengthens memory.  

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How Does It Work?
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After we encode the information into our long term memory. The information is there but many times the connection is not very strong.  By trying to retrieve that information multiple times, we are strengthening the connection. 

This retrieval practice should take place spaced out  over time and over multiple contexts.The more we successfully retrieve it, and the more contexts we can connect it to, the easier and faster we can pull it up and the less working memory space we will take up, and the greater chance we have of transferring the knowledge. 

Why is it also called "The Testing Effect"?
Why is it also called the testing effect? When we take a test we are actively trying to pull information from our memory.  Retrieval Practice and testing are the same thing.  But unlike the way we commonly use tests in schools,  Retrieval Practice is a strategy for learning and generally comes with “little stakes” to “no stakes” for the students using them.   Because testing has been associated negatively in many educational settings, retrieval practice has become a more popular term to use. 
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Peter Brown puts it well in his book Make It Stick: 
But if we stop thinking of testing as a dipstick to measure learning—if we think of it as practicing retrieval of learning from memory rather than “testing,” we open ourselves to another possibility: the use of testing as a tool for learning.Where the research has shown testing really works though, is through its other attributes, specifically the retrieval of information.
If you want to learn more about Retrieval Practice:

References I used for this page: 

Roediger, H. I & Pyc, M. A. (2012). Inexpensive techniques to improve education:

Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011). Test-Enhanced Learning

Gerbier, Emilie & Toppino, Thomas & Koenig, Olivier. (2014). Optimising retention through multiple study opportunities over days: The benefit of an expanding schedule of repetitions. Memory (Hove, England). 23. 1-12. 10.1080/09658211.2014.944916.

Yang, C., Potts, R. & Shanks, D.R. Enhancing learning and retrieval of new information: a review of the forward testing effect. npj Science Learn3, 8 (2018).

Daniel, D. B. Promising principles: Translating the science of learning to educational practice. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1(4), 251–253.
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