Retrieval Practice in the Classroom: Is Asking Questions Enough?

Retrieval Practice in the Classroom: Is Asking Questions Enough?

So, what does this mean for educators?

It is not enough to ask questions during lecture because students are unlikely to engage in covert retrieval unless they are pushed to do so. Instead, try having students write down an answer and then possibly share that answer with a partner or the class, but they need to engage in their own retrieval first. Simply asking students to engage in retrieval is not enough as many will likely wait for the answer and then engage in a recognition process (“Oh yeah, I knew that”) instead of recalling the response for themselves.

The other important takeaway more directly impacts student group work. When students are engaging in retrieval practice in groups, the person who is in charge of asking the questions would benefit from also writing down a response or they will see little benefit to this group work. Alternatively, it is important that students take turns frequently during group work, making sure that everyone gets asked the same questions so that all students benefit from the retrieval on each question.


(1) Abel, M., & Roediger III, H. L. (2018). The testing effect in a social setting: Does retrieval practice benefit a listener?. Journal of experimental psychology: Applied, 24(3), 347.