Retrieval practice alone is not enough. We must also consider spaced learning, interleaving, feedback and metacognition if we are to have an impact on the retention and transfer of knowledge and skills. Kristian Still looks at why we must use and combine all five approaches

There is a “wealth of evidence” (Agarwal et al, 2021) about the “reliable advantage”, (Yang et al, 2021) of test-enhanced learning – more commonly referred to as the testing effect or retrieval practice – over other study methods.

Retrieval practice involves bringing information to mind from your long-term memory. This process of retrieving makes information easier to access and remember at a later date compared to simply re-studying and other more popular study activities. It also increases your ability to use and apply the information to new situations (for more see Webb, 2017).

In fact it was one of only two techniques described to have “high utility” in Dunlosky et al’s seminal 2013 paper – the other being distributed or spaced learning (Webb, 2019), which we will come back to shortly.

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