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Active Recall


Study Skills & Tools All Ages Strategy


Verbal Memory Visual Memory

Active Recall

If your student understands but struggles with efficient retention

Use It In Your Instructional Practice

  1. Objective: Incorporate daily opportunities for students to actively recall material so they learn and retain information more effectively. Also called Retrieval Practice.
  2. Build in exercises daily that force students to recall the information you have taught, not just recognize it such as daily warm-ups, exit tickets, and formative assessments.
  3. Ask students to apply, show or explain an answer rather than multiple choice or true false questions which only asks them to recognize content but not actively retrieve it. Alternatively, have students explain multiple choice or true-false responses as a form of active recall.
  4. Explain why you are practicing retrieval so that they begin to connect the activity with how you want them to study independently.

Teach The Student Boost

  1. Explain why: Quizzing yourself as you study instead of just reading over your notes forces your brain to recall the information without seeing it, which is what is usually necessary to make things stick.
  2. Take time to teach students how to study. Students sometimes mistakenly believe that they have studied “enough” because they read and understand their notes or the textbook.
  3. Provide students with ways to actively recall, such as using class time to make flashcards to study, having them answer questions in the back of the textbook or providing practice tests.
  4. Give students the answers so they can self-check their knowledge.

Understand Why It Is Important

  1. Retrieval practice forces a student to recall the information, not just recognize it, which ensures they fully understand the concept and increases the likelihood of long-term retention.
  2. Active recall is important for all students, but should be emphasized for students with weaker memory, reasoning or self-awareness of mastery.