Jun 082012

Retrieval Practice: Active Retrieval Promotes Meaningful Learning

  1. Jeffrey D. Karpicke

+ Author Affiliations

  1. Purdue University
  1. Jeffrey D. Karpicke, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, 703 Third St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2081 E-mail: karpicke@purdue.edu


Retrieval is the key process for understanding learning and for promoting learning, yet retrieval is not often granted the central role it deserves. Learning is typically identified with the encoding or construction of knowledge, and retrieval is considered merely the assessment of learning that occurred in a prior experience. The retrieval-based learning perspective outlined here is grounded in the fact that all expressions of knowledge involve retrieval and depend on the retrieval cues available in a given context. Further, every time a person retrieves knowledge, that knowledge is changed, because retrieving knowledge improves one’s ability to retrieve it again in the future. Practicing retrieval does not merely produce rote, transient learning; it produces meaningful, long-term learning. Yet retrieval practice is a tool many students lack metacognitive awareness of and do not use as often as they should. Active retrieval is an effective but undervalued strategy for promoting meaningful learning.





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