Retrieval practice in science

This project will test whether Learning by Questions (LbQ) is a more effective method of retrieval practice in science than more traditional SMART (Smart Minds Active Recall Time) Connect activities in Year 9 low prior-attaining pupils and Year 10 mid prior-attaining pupils.

Challenge

Teaching with a focus on developing memory is a core teaching and learning (T&L) priority for Ashington and Bedlington Academies. Ashington Academy has low attainment and progress in science at Key Stage 4 (P8 -0.76 in 2018). Disadvantaged pupils perform significantly less well than their non-disadvantaged peers (P8 -1.34 compared with -0.6 for non-disadvantaged). Low prior-attaining pupils perform notably less well than the rest of the cohort (P8 -1.03). While overall progress and attainment is higher in science at Bedlington Academy, there is still a significant gap between the performance of disadvantaged pupils and their non-disadvantaged peers. In both schools, staff identify pupils’ lack of resilience and poor retention of core knowledge as a significant barrier to progress, particularly faced with new, more demanding GCSEs. Previous preferred teaching and learning approaches in school have been more focused on skill development than knowledge development.
Bedlington Academy has comparatively good attainment and progress in science at Key Stage 4 (P8 0.26 in 2018). However, disadvantaged pupils perform notably less well than their non-disadvantaged peers (P8 -0.53 compared to 0.72 for non-disadvantaged).

Innovation

We aim to use LbQ for memory retrieval at the beginning of lessons, substituting for current traditional retrieval activities used. Currently, the retrieval method used in school is effective, but only when used consistently and systematically. The instant feedback feature of LbQ will allow us to examine whether more structured, consistent feedback allows for greater retention and retrieval.

We aim to use LbQ as a starter task for Year 10 classes.

Lead schools

  • Ashington Academy
  • Bedlington Academy

Year level

  • Year 9 and Year 10

Subject

  • Science

Timeline

  • 7 months

Download the protocol document