Recent studies have shown that retrieval (a process of accessing certain information in your brain) is critical for robust, durable, long-term learning. Every time a memory is retrieved, that memory becomes better available for access in the future. Not surprisingly, practicing memory retrieval produces more knowledge retention than other effective techniques. From these findings, we understand that the retrieval process has a central role in learning. What’s interesting is that the benefits of repeated retrieval are not isolated to a particular type of learning, and instead appear with a variety of mediums, learning settings and situations including eLearning, online simulations and blended learning programs. Here’s another great fact: retrieval improves learning for a variety of learners ranging from preschoolers to senior citizen.
Now that we know that retrieval practice is such an important learning approach, we should start encouraging the learners to engage in retrieval to improve their learning in many different settings and situations. Up until now, retrieval was not regarded an important part of the learning process, and unfortunately, we were not encouraging our learners to engage in retrieval as often as we should have. Every eLearning designer should take into consideration the benefits of memory retrieval. Make sure that you provide quizzes, knowledge checks, and assessments with every learning product you develop. This simple step has an enormous potential to greatly improve the training outcomes for your learning population.
Quizzes come with a variety of positive effects in addition to knowledge retention. Quizzes have the same benefits for online courses as they do for face-to-face courses. Several benefits of quizzes are:
- Allows instructor to determine the depth of critical thinking done by students on a frequent basis throughout the course
- Determine preparedness of students regarding their understanding of the content before a final exam is given
- Short quizzes can be scored quickly in the learning management system (LMS) to provide quick feedback to students
- Can be a good determinant of overall course understanding
Quizzes do not have to be boring, intelligence-insulting exercises serving no purpose other than to check the box that says we tested people. Quizzes in eLearning can be used to motivate learners, help them remember what they learned, and assess what they learned. Evidence from research proves this and can be used to your advantage.