Retrieval more important than revision
At the back end of January ‘10 I was reading the research findings by Jeffrey D. Karpicke, Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue. In a nutshell, Karpicke’s research shows that practicing retrieval is an even more effective strategy than engaging in elaborative studying. Given that it is now fast approaching revision season, here it is again (a “thank you” to Ruth Digby who kindly shared her resources with us recently). Tried and thoroughly tested.
So after reading around a little I wanted to create a ‘game’ retrieval exercise to help our students prepare for their exams. Now on version 3, I think we have an automated, customisable revision tool worth sharing. In this example, I have used terms associated with GCSE English Paper 1.
GAP, or genre, audience and purpose are the parent terms, with examples colour coded accordingly. Fact, Opinion and Call to Action are common examiner terms and the final category.
The convincer: You tell the students that this technique is 50% more powerful than more elaborate revision techniques such as mind maps. Tell the students to simply follow the instructions on the screen but you will be strict. Build up the task.
Then reinforce the on screen instructions.
Words up, pens down.
When the guillotine comes down, students must try and recreate the sequence (words and shapes) in the same layout, on a blank page. (Recommend you do this at the back on the book or on scrap.)
As soon as the words reappear, pens down.
In version 2 we added the numbers in the top right hand corner to show the students which blast they were on.
In version 3 we lengthened the time given to ‘retrieve’ the sequence but you can customise this yourself to suite your students using the animation pane.
Students were typically very focused and on-task throughout. There were exceptions with one or two students rejecting the NEW task. Why? I am not sure, it is demanding, it is hard work, but they may have just not enjoyed the task of learning key terms.
Importantly, results were typically impressive. After 3-4 practices, (once or twice a lesson), students were able to recreate the sequence after just 5-6 blasts. More importantly, at the end of the lessons, some 30 minutes later, students were able to remember and list 17-22 key vocabulary terms. For D-C students, having the appropriate terms available to express themselves, might just impress the moderator and tip the balance in their favour.
Help yourself, test it yourself and share your feedback. Its currently being road tested in other subjects at school, so its certainly not subject specific. English teachers, I have other examples if your interested.