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SCIENCE-BASED LEARNING?

What do we mean by science-based learning?

Retrieval Practice and Spaced Practice

Our modules centre on the concept of building background knowledge through retrieval practice and spaced practice. In short, this means asking students to retrieve information from memory and repeating this over time. Spaced practice means repeatedly recalling information when first learning new information and then spacing more and more time between these recall events. Evidence indicates that building background knowledge improves understanding and improves grades. One of the best ways to do this is self-testing with low-stakes tests, and our practice tests are the central feature of our learning modules.

Feedback, Elaboration, and Connections

Students do receive knowledge of results following a practice test. However, this does not improve learning (it is just information). All of our practice tests, therefore, are followed by feedback for learning. Our feedback anticipates where students may struggle, elaborates on the topic, and draws connections between topics.

Build on Previous Knowledge

Our practice tests attempt to build on the learning in the classroom. Any section or unit of study typically begins with recognition questions or basic recall and identification questions and then proceeds to higher-order thinking questions. Beginning recall questions include hints, but hints are reduced in later tests. Practice tests build on the knowledge of previous tests while keeping in mind the concept of spacing practice.

Metacognition

Metacognition means 'thinking about thinking', or thinking about our learning. It is about preparing the mind for thinking (each of our practices has a Pre-Think before the practice begins). It is about follow-up feedback and reflective questions that ask learners to anticipate what's coming or to reflect on past learning.

Think and Draw

Throughout our practice tests, there are moments when learners are asked to think about their learning and draw from memory or draw to help visualize and answer. Evidence is increasing that drawing and memory are connected with learning.

Learning Anywhere, Anytime

While not necessarily a science-based learning concept, the idea that a learner can go to their personal device at any time and do a practice test contributes to retrieval practice and spaced practice. Our practice tests are not lengthy. We prepare our practice tests to be completed in less than ten minutes.

Our learning module subscriptions:

  • permit learners to repeat practice tests as many times as they wish (especially important when first learning new information)

  • space practice of topics (more recalls at first with more space between recalls over the course of the module)

  • vary question types (from recognition questions with hints to full recall, 'production' questions)

  • vary question format (short answer, true or false, fill in the blank, matching, multiple-choice, visual choice)

  • every practice test comes with feedback at the end of a test for each question which is more effective than feedback following each question

If you haven't tried any of our sample practice tests, use the buttons below to navigate to various practice tests.

These will take you to our testing site.

Check out the following practice test samples for more styles that demonstrate our science-based
practice for learning.

For a more comprehensive, look select a particular subject select A Deeper Look from our menu and check out a few of our practice tests.