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.


Teaching with a focus on developing memory is a core teaching and learning (T&L) priority for Ashington Academy. 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). 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.


We will 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.

Lead schools

  • Ashington Academy
  • Bedlington Academy

Year level

  • Year 9 and Year 10


  • Science


  • 7 months

Download the protocol document

Download the protocol version 2 document