A new study conducted by Dr. Lisa K. Fazio, “Retrieval practice opportunities in middle school mathematics’ teacher’s oral questions.”, shows that many teachers promote more active forms of learning like retrieval practice, but the research suggests that some of the other hallmarks of active learning, like waiting for students to respond, are not occurring.
The study attempted to examine how often and what type of questions teachers ask that require retrieval practice.
It also looked if teachers whose students showed high growth in mathematics achievement used retrieval questions differently from teachers whose students showed low growth.
The researchers found, on average, that middle school mathematics teachers asked a whopping 210 questions per hour, or 3.5 per minute.
The study also pointed to three hypothesized areas that are necessary for student learning and, unfortunately, are often missing from the classroom:
Time to respond: Ideally, teachers should wait a few seconds for students to process a question, think, and formulate a response.
A norm of participation: It’s the idea that the majority of students need to be engaged in the classroom if retrieval questions are to improve classroom performance.
Effortful retrieval: The level of difficulty often corresponds to the quality of learning. In other words, harder retrievals are more valuable for students.