Have you ever tried to remember something – the name of someone you just met, or the combination to an old lock, for example – and your friend interrupts your process of remembering it by remembering it FOR you? Perhaps it went something like this:

You: What was his name again… wait… don’t tell me. Seriously, don’t tell me, I’ll remember it….

Friend: It was Joe, wasn’t it?

You: Dang it dude, I almost had it!

When these situations present themselves, most of us realize intuitively that recalling the fact from memory will lead to stronger retention of that fact than if someone recalls it for us. The arduous process of dredging the contents of memory is perceived (and scientifically confirmed) as more effective for “making it stick” than if our friend robs us of the opportunity to go through that process.

If you think about it, these situations happen all the time when we’re teaching. We could review yesterday’s material for the students, OR we could ask them to remember it, unassisted. The second option has become known as “Retrieval practice”, which is addressed with unparalleled specificity and nuance in the new book, “Test-enhanced Learning” by Kristian Still.

Below is the blurb I wrote for the of the book.

Retrieval practice is an essential topic for every teacher and school leader to understand. As it has gained in popularity (a quick Google Ngram search shows exponential growth in the use of “retrieval practice” since 2000), educators around the world are looking to get their hands on no-nonsense, practical solutions for embedding techniques that harness the testing effect into their specific contexts. Still’s Test-Enhanced Learning has provided educators with the primer and the blueprint for doing so. Through perceptive descriptions and illustrative case studies, Still takes readers on a journey through the research and related concepts of this powerful area of evidence-informed instruction. The result is a book that is accessible to both new and long-time enthusiasts of the science of learning. For a field that has often vilified testing while embracing fads, folk theories, and other foolishness, this book is, if not a miracle, a giant step in the right direction.

Zach Groshell, PhD, Instructional Coach and Former Teacher, Blogger, Author, Host of the Progressively Incorrect Podcast

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