Rosenshine’s tenth and final Principle of Instruction is about the importance of doing weekly and monthly reviews. This extends upon his first principle, which emphasised that teachers should dedicate a bit of time each lesson reviewing previously learnt material.
Read the whole Rosenshine’s Principles blog series…
However, unlike the first principle which highlights the importance of a daily review, Rosenshine’s tenth principle explores why teachers should encourage students to engage in weekly and monthly reviews as well. Regularly applying newly learnt information to complete tasks, be it through answering questions, quizzes or past papers, improves memory recall.
What does Rosenshine say?
Rosenshine believes that for students to become skilled and successful learners, they need additional practice to ensure this information is well connected and embedded in their long-term memory. When connections between learning are widespread and far-reaching, learning actually becomes easier because students have a strong factual foundation. Regularly reviewing information frees up space in our working memory: trying to remember old information won’t get in the way of trying to learn new information.
Research shows that students who were given weekly quizzes scored significantly better on their final exams compared to students who were only given 1-2 quizzes per term. Another study found that even when the quiz didn’t contribute to their grades and only covered some of the lesson material, students who were regularly quizzed over a year and a half scored a full grade level higher on the material from the quizzes.
What does the research say?
Rosenshine’s tenth principle embodies the idea of successive relearning, which is the combination of retrieval practice and the Spacing Effect. Specifically, it is when students space out when they practise retrieval over a certain period of time until mastery and automaticity of the skill have been accomplished. For example, continuously expanding quadratic equations correctly and without errors.
Utilising a successive relearning approach when engaging in independent practice is a great way for students to maintain their ability to successfully apply their knowledge. It also enables students to make connections between previously-learnt information and newly-acquired information, allowing them to get a better understanding of the bigger picture and thus enhancing their memory recall.
Research suggests that students who used successive relearning strategies for their revision scored on average 13% higher than what they had in a previous semester and performed significantly better than their peers who did not use the strategy. The researchers stated that this was because successive relearning provided students with the opportunity to relearn previous material they had forgotten between revision sessions. As a result, students were able to solidify this knowledge in their long-term memory.
Practical implications in the classroom
Flashcards are a great retrieval practice strategy as students can make them for everything they need to know or are struggling with and can repeatedly test themselves. However, research shows that only 34% of students use flashcards extensively.
One way students can use flashcards to revise is by implementing the Leitner System. It’s a 5-step process that uses flashcards and a “learning box”. To learn more about how to use the Leitner system, our blog on a better way to revise provides a clear guide.
Do weekly and monthly quizzes
Teachers often use formal assessments as a way to assess student understanding. For example, when you’ve finished going through a topic, you may have an end of topic tests. The marks that students achieve on these tests then go towards their current grades, which are then used to determine their predicted grades. However, retrieval practice may not work as well in this situation.
This is because when students know they’re getting tested on a topic, they may panic or shut down. Some may even try and find the test online, so they get a good mark. The issue with the word ‘test’ is that students don’t focus on what’s important: whether they fully understand a topic or need more time practising. Low-stress weekly and monthly quizzes are a great way to monitor student progress – retrieval practice works best when the stakes are low.
Asking students questions and encouraging them to think critically is a great way for students to think deeply about the material they’re learning. Not only do questions allow teachers to assess student understanding and whether more time should be spent on providing scaffolds, but they also allow students to practice retrieval.
Using questions such as pre-questions has been shown to improve academic performance by up to 50% in certain situations. Research also shows that students who use self-questioning techniques performed better on their exams than students who either reviewed lesson content by themselves or discussed it with their peers. It’s important that students ask ‘why’ so they can make stronger connections between their old and new knowledge.
By reviewing information on a regular basis, students:
- Stop cramming all their revision practice into one session.
- Don’t waste time having to re-teach old material from scratch.
- Have lower learner fatigue.
- Retain memorised information for longer periods of time.
Want to learn more about each principle and how to use them in the classroom? We offer CPD workshops – click on the links below to find out more about:
Read the whole Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction blog series…