• Question: We have been instilling retrieval/spaced learning into our Scheme of work over the past year to great success. We are now in our revision period and students tend to switch off as soon as you mention the word revision. Do you have any practical revision strategies that we can use at school now the content has been covered? Thank you!

    Asked by Anon to Sue, Lucy, Kathrin, Joni, Joe, Iroise, Ian, Emma, Duncan on 22 Apr 2015.
    • Photo: Sue Fletcher-Watson

      Sue Fletcher-Watson answered on 22 Apr 2015:

      Warning: I’m not basing this answer on any specific scientific evidence but…

      In a different thread on this site there was some conversation about learning styles and their validity (or not). From what I’ve read, learning styles are a bit of a myth in the sense that people who claim to have a preferred style don’t actually learn better that way than in another style. However one side-effect of the learning styles approach has been to emphasise how presenting material in different formats can enhance learning.

      So if I was doing a revision session I would focus on trying to present the information in a different modality to the original presentation. In other words, if they mostly relied on text first time around, why not ask them to make cartoons or podcasts about their knowledge this time?

      I’m also a big fan of using technology in the classroom so I would recommend group work – for example, take a topic area and make a short film about what you’ve learned. Then share all the films with the whole class and have a discussion session about the creative process AND a quiz on the content. Students can peer-mark eachother both for the artistic quality of the films but also their efficacy in delivering the key facts. For inspiration, why not look up ‘Dance my phd’ to see PhD students explaining their PhD topics in the form of dance. Yes, really. It’s amazing.

    • Photo: Lucy Cragg

      Lucy Cragg answered on 22 Apr 2015:

      There is lots of evidence that active revision strategies such as practice tests and quizzes are better than passive strategies like reading and highlighting (see http://psi.sagepub.com/content/14/1/4.full.pdf+html?ijkey=Z10jaVH/60XQM&keytype=ref&siteid=sppsi). There’s also some evidence from undergraduates that getting students to come up with their own questions helps (http://users.ugent.be/~mvalcke/CV/Lecture_questions.pdf). One approach could therefore be to get students to come up with questions for a class quiz. There’s some really good free online software that you can use to make nice quizzes. My husband uses http://www.studyblue.com/ a lot to make quizzes for his classes.

    • Photo: Joseph Devlin

      Joseph Devlin answered on 22 Apr 2015:

      I agree with Lucy — one good option might be to encourage informal quizzes to reinforce the knowledge and highlight areas that need more attention. Even better if the students generate the quizzes themselves. I’ve heard (but haven’t yet tried) that PeerWise (https://peerwise.cs.auckland.ac.nz) is a great tool for this. I’m going to check out StudyBlue now too.

    • Photo: Duncan Astle

      Duncan Astle answered on 9 May 2015:

      I also agree with Lucy!! Lots of evidence for the massive benefits of active ‘revision’.

      I used to write my own questions at the end of each day, and see if I could answer them the next day. I think it worked a treat. Also generating your own essay questions and then trying to answer them.

      I would also suggest that you come with a different term for ‘revision’, if you think that the word itself has some negative associations!