Implementing Retrieval Practice into my Study Habits

Retrieval practice is a learning strategy based around getting information out of the mind instead of just pushing information in. This can be done by attempting to recall information you have just read in order to remember it, instead of just re-reading it. Using flash cards, completing quizzes and exams, and asking questions aloud are all examples of retrieval practice being implemented. Retrieval practice has also been shown to not just lead to greater memorization of the material being learned but also greater understanding. This leads to better long term memory and the easier transfer of knowledge to new and different concepts.

The reason I chose retrieval practice as the strategy I want to implement in my own study habits is because it is effective and easy to use in practice. Implementing it will not create too big of a change in my own learning habits and therefore will lead to a shorter and easier adjustment period. This makes it a realistic strategy for me to use in my daily life and will allow me to implement it in a reasonable time frame. I have also done a presentation on retrieval practice which has allowed me to learn the pros and cons of the method as a learning strategy as well as the best ways to put it into effect.

I plan on implementing a variety of forms of retrieval practice into my studying habits and my daily life in general. The most simple way for me to adopt this strategy is to do all the homework questions assigned when I am studying for a test. This will allow me to check if I actually understand the material and prepare me for questions that might appear on an evaluation. If I do poorly on the practice questions I will reread the material and attempt the questions again until I can answer all of them with little effort. This process of constantly reading and recalling the information will help me remember it and grasp a greater understanding of the material. Another way I will utilize this strategy is to make my own practice evaluations. The act of creating questions and answering them will allow me to reap the benefits of retrieval practice at an even higher rate.

I will be able to tell if my strategy is working by looking at the marks I receive after evaluations where I have used the retrieval practice method. If my marks are significantly higher then before I implemented the strategy I know that I am on the right track and can continue with the strategy as is. However, if my marks don't significantly change or even drop, I will tweak my implementation of retrieval practice for that specific course or even my learning abilities in general. After a few tweaks like these I should be able to implement the strategy in a way that will achieve the best results for me.

In order to change my habits to adapt to this strategy I will first change some of my specific behaviors. One of those behaviors is not leaving enough time to study before a test, which will not give me enough time to do enough practice questions to implement retrieval practice properly. In the future I will make sure I get all my other work done beforehand so the only thing I need to do before an evaluation is study. Second, It is hard for me to continue to do practice questions if I think I know the subject matter well or if it is to easy. In order to counteract this I will make my own practice questions to do if I believe the questions provided are not at the same level as those which will be on the evaluation. Finally, I will make sure to take constant ten minute breaks every hour in order to not get burnt out from doing so many practice questions.

By changing these behaviors I will also change the situation I find myself in before an evaluation. Usually I am stressed and afraid but with these changes I will become calm and confidant that my strategy will prepare me well. By changing the situation I will also behaviors that result from it, like the need to stay up late to study and reread materials. In reality this will not help my learning and will cause me to do worse on evaluations. Implement these small changes like I have proposed will make the transition easy and will therefore make it easier to change my habits. If I try to implement too many big scary changes I am more likely to retreat back to my old comfortable habits once more.

In the end I think implementing the retrieval practice learning strategy with these changes will allow me to achieve better marks on evaluations and understand material more effectively. I believe I have chosen specific changes which will allow me to reach my goal and implement the strategy in a realistic way. By changing my behaviors and the situation I can use this strategy to become a better student and a better learner. These good habits will not only help me achieve more in high school, but also in university, the workplace and beyond.


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