I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about reducing scaffolding when using retrieval practice strategies. Multiple-choice questions are one of the most commonly used retrieval practice techniques; however, as discussed in the recent blog post, they have limitations – namely, they always include a correct answer. This is not to say they don’t have a use in retrieval practice. However, we should be aiming for students to complete short-answer questions for retrieval practice as they are required to produce the answer.
So, how can we achieve this? One possible approach might be to use multiple-choice questions in the first stage of retrieval practice. These could be used as starter activities or for homework. Once students demonstrate success using multiple-choice questions, the scaffolding could be reduced by providing students with short answer questions in the form of a crossword. Using a crossword, students can complete the questions in any order they like and, for those they find more challenging, the addition of letters from other words can prompt and support them in answering.
The final step is the introduction of short answer questions. If students continue to need support, the first letter of each answer could be provided. This can then be removed later.
To support geography teachers in reducing scaffolding for retrieval practice, a range of new resources are being developed for subscribers to Internet Geography Plus. We are creating a bank of resources in the form of multiple-choice questions, crosswords and short answer quizzes, each of which is available as an electronic document and interactive resource.
Internet Geography Plus subscribers already have access to a significant bank of multiple-choice questions in MS Word format and fully-customisable MS Forms and Google Forms Quizzes. In addition, we are currently working on crosswords and short answer quizzes.