How STEM Teachers Can Increase Memory Retrieval for Students

Brockport Faculty Osman Yasar, Peter Veronesi, and Leigh Little alongside Jose Maliekal (Dean of Arts and Sciences) published a research paper in the Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Findings from a longitudinal study of regional STEM teachers’ deployment of memory retrieval strategies in their learning environments are reported. These strategies were provided during summer, fall, and spring Professional Development workshops supported by the NSF Innovative Technological Experiences for Students and Teachers (I-TEST) “MakingItStick!” grant.

The authors describe a professional development program to help students retrieve content learned in class, retain it, and then apply it in different contexts to solve novel problems using memory retrieval learning strategies. These strategies range from simple electronic flashcards for basic memory retrieval strategies to low-stakes quizzes for spaced-out and interleaved retrieval practices as well as computer simulations for generative (problem-solving) practices. We provided consecutive fall and spring training on

  1. basic retrieval practices to 232 first-year teachers
  2. interleaving retrieval strategies to 123 second-year teachers
  3. generative retrieval practices to 23 third-year teachers.

A large number of target and controlled studies (n=42) show that students who learned math and science topics through interleaved retrieval practices consistently scored 5-30% better than those who learned it in the more traditional blocked practice. 

Source: Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching (2021) 40(3), 265-298 A Professional Development Program on Memory Retrieval Strategies for STEM Teachers

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