Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Active Retrieval Practice: Known to Improve Learning but Underappreciated?

Professor Benjamin Madison has an insightful post on the Best Practices for Legal Education blog on active retrieval practice.


"Research on cognition demonstrates that meaningful learning in any discipline requires the learner to perform some form of active retrieval exercises to be able to use the knowledge in analyzing and solving problems.   Active retrieval methods are ways in which the learner recalls knowledge and uses the recalled knowledge to solve problems or answer questions.  Recalling for mere “knowledge checks,” sometimes called rote learning, is not effective.  In the law school arena, a student can recite a memorized rule but not be able to apply it to fact patterns in a way that shows understanding.   Effective retrieval-based learning activities require the student to solve problems or to answer questions.  By doing so, the learner strengthens her understanding  of, and ability to recall, the knowledge.  In law school, mid-term exams require students to recall information at least in mid-semester.  The problem there is that neuroscience shows a marked forgetting curve: if learning is not retrieved within a few days of its being stored, the knowledge is lost and must be relearned. Indeed, retrieving and using the knowledge are the critical parts of developing meaningful learning."  (citations ommitted)

(Scott Fruehwald)

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