Vary your assessments and retrieval exercises.

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Altering retrieval exercises and test formats challenges students and increases their information retention by forcing them to recall it under differing contexts. Assessments should be cumulative in content, not only focusing on recently presented material, and should focus on key concepts rather than random facts, preventing students from 'selectively forgetting' certain concepts when studying. Glover (1989) found that students' long-term retention of information was better when they were given multiple exams rather than a single, large one and professors consistently reviewed all concepts presented.

Ideas for incorporation:

  • Space out your assessments rather than giving a single, large one.
  • Administer cumulative assessments in order to prevent selective forgetting.
  • Vary your test formats. Uniform test formats fail to challenge students and provides you and them with a false sense knowledge.
  • Vary your retrieval exercises. As in the case of assessments, varying retrieval exercises challenges students to use information under varying contexts and thus reinforces knowledge and understanding.

Click here for a helpful article on retrieval tests.