History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Teaching Issues

5 ways to use retrieval tests to make knowledge stick

So, Ofsted published some research recently which underpins their new inspection framework.

It’s reassuring that they agree with us about what makes good assessment.

The research states,

‘Teachers can use assessment to help them plan lessons, adapt lessons to measured gaps in knowledge and skills, and if necessary re-teach where problems persist.’ (P18).

This is exactly what www.historyhomework.com allows you to do, particularly via home learning. The tests help identify knowledge gaps so, in the long term, you can plan your course to fill these gaps.

Top tips

1. Simply teach an element/bullet point from the GCSE spec then set a specific retrieval test. Each HistoryHomework test has been specifically written to assess students’ substantive and disciplinary knowledge on each aspect of the spec.

Once the students have completed this test, the teacher report will highlight their knowledge gaps – this will show you exactly what they have and haven’t grasped.

To see how to get the best use out of the data, watch the second 60-second film on this page. 

 2. Ofsted now uses Sweller’s definition of learning: ‘If nothing in long term memory has been altered, nothing has been learned’. To help embed GCSE knowledge into long memory, you can reset tests from aspects of the GCSE course that you previously taught at regular intervals.

This interleaving will reveal knowledge gaps and strengthen long term memory. You could set an instantly marked weekly homework on a different time period from the thematic course, whilst teaching your Modern World Depth Study for example.

3.  Each unit of tests in HistoryHomework has an ‘end of topic’ test which has a careful selection of questions that come from a number of bullet points on the spec rather than just one.

By setting ‘end of topic’ tests throughout your GCSE course, you will see what they can remember over the longer term. Why not set them randomly over a longer period of time to see how much they can recall?

Each data report will show you what they know and don’t know, so you can inform your future teaching and revision sessions.

Pre and Post teach testing

4. Use the tests during/after revision sessions. Get your students to learn/revise one or two topics, then set individual tests for them to complete them.

Ensuring that your input teaches the content in the tests will build their confidence when they get high marks.

5. Remember to pre-test your students too. At the start of a new topic, most of our units have an introductory test that checks their general knowledge of this topic.

Each test designed to see what they know before they start the course. Set this before they start/having taught the first lesson of this unit. It makes a simple first homework task and allows you to glean vital assessment information.

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About the author
Richard McFahn
Founder of History Resource Cupboard, Richard has worked for 20 years as a history teacher, subject and senior leader, Advanced Skills Teacher, local authority adviser and history ITE tutor.

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