Tag Archives: Revision

Blog of the Week: 5 April 2019 – Structured revision lessons using retrieval, spacing & interleaving


The problem with many revision classes is that many teachers think that students can suddenly self organise and self motivate. This is rarely the case. Last year I trialled a revision lesson structure and blogged on it here- Using research to design a revision session. The feedback from students was positive and I believe these had impact on their final weeks of learning before the exams. We use it for every lesson now and they can also use the structure for their own revision sessions. It’s based on cognitive science principles of retrieval, spacing and interleaving.

However, I wanted to improve the structure further this year. Here is the new structure:


Over the series of lessons, each topic is covered a minimum of 3 times. First it is in a review, then next lesson that topic is the exam question and the lesson after it it the marking task…

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Blog of the Week: 11 May 2018 – How should students revise? A brief guide


One of the biggest lessons from research is that many students don’t really know how to study. Various studies have shown that students rate re-reading and highlighting as the most effective ways of revising when in reality they are often a waste of time giving an illusion of competence in the short term at the expense of long term gains.

Students may spend large amounts of additional time studying despite no gain in later memory for the items, a phenomenon called ‘‘labour-in-vain’’ during learning (Nelson & Leonesio,1988). Recent research with educationally relevant materials has shown that repeatedly reading prose passages produces limited benefits beyond a single reading. (Karpicke, Roediger, Butler, 2009)

In contrast, retrieval practice, spacing and interleaving are some of the most productive ways of revising material but how many students are familiar with this? I think there is often a tendency to focus too much on what teachers…

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Blog of the Week: 7 February 2018 – When do the 6 Strategies for Effective Learning Work Best?

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By Megan Smith & Cindy Wooldridge

We have written a lot about the 6 strategies for effective learning (spaced practiceinterleavingelaborative interrogationconcrete examplesdual coding, and retrieval practice). For example, in this piece Cindy discussed the powerful combination of spacing, retrieval practice, and sleep. In this guest post, Yana’s student tried out the 6 strategies on her own and documented her progress.

We have written so much about these strategies because decades of cognitive evidence suggest they are effective ways to learn (1). However, using these strategies does not automatically mean students will get an A. Evidence suggests they’re effective, but they’re not a magic learning pill. (A magic learning pill doesn’t exist, as much as we, as students, sometimes wished it did. Anyone who tells you otherwise is likely trying to sell you something to turn a profit. But, who knows, maybe someday.)

If using the strategies doesn’t mean an automatic A, then how should students use…

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Blog of the Week: 24 January 2018 – Top 10 Revision Strategies

Year after the year, the same pressures attend exam revision. Each year teachers try the old favourites, alongside a few new revision strategies to keep our students interested. Happily, we now have a wealth of evidence to support some revision strategies over others as we approach the revision stretch.

We know that students are not the most reliable when it comes to judging their own learning, with regular self-testing proving the most effective antidote. We also know that some strategies, like re-reading and using highlighters, are largely ineffective, whereas as quizzing does the trick. We know that a little ‘deliberate difficulty’ may well prove a good thing for revision, and that ‘cramming’ is inferior to ‘distributed practice’ (or spreading revision out over time), when it comes to remembering.

We should be careful not outsource an approach to revision to a company promoting the following strategies, or to puff up the confidence of our students. A successful approach to…

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