How to quickly make retrieval practice tasks…

Research suggests that fill in the blank questions are more effective at helping students encode knowledge into long term memory than multiple choice quizzes. This is because they have to actively retrieve knowledge from their memory in order to answer them, rather than just select that correct answer.

This blog post gives a quick and easy way of building such retrieval practice exercises that utilise this idea.

Consider this multiple choice question from the IB on energetics. You can quickly turn this into a fill in the blanks exercise in some simple, quick steps.

A multiple choice question from the IB

Steps for quickly turning an MCQ question into an effective retrieval practice exercise

  1. Simply copy the statements into a presentation.
  2. Change the wording in A, B and C so that they are correct statements.
  3. Make a copy of this slide.
  4. Delete the words that will illicit understanding. For example, in D, I would delete the word “greater” as if students get this correct, it will demonstrate their knowledge.
  5. In the copy of the slide, highlight that word in red so that students can get immediate feedback. This will utilise the hypercorrection effect.
  6. BONUS: You can add a statement that says “explain your answers” in order to get students to elaborate on their understanding.

Here is the final product:

Slide 1 (Retrieval Practice Exercise) Slide 2 (Answers for immediate feedback)

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