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Does question difficulty impact the effect of retrieval practice/testing effect?

Written by: Lewis Adams
6 min read
Lewis Adams, Assistant Headteacher, UK  Increasingly, education is becoming about understanding and applying cognitive science in the classroom. The new Early Career Framework (ECF) actively seeks to train our new teachers to teach their students to ‘retrieve information from memory’ (DfE, 2019, p. 11), and Ofsted have now defined learning as ‘an alteration in long-term memory’ (2022, para 212). Retrieval practice is ‘the act of recalling learned information from memory (with little or no support)’ (Jones, 2019, p. 15). The effect of retrieval practice is based upon the testing effect, 'the finding that taking a test on previously studied material leads to better retention than does restudying that material for an equivalent amount of time' (APA, nd). Schwieren et al. (2017, p. 1) describe the testing effect as ‘a robust empirical finding on learning and instruction, demonstrating that taking tests during the learning phase facilitates later retrieval from long-term mem

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