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Using Broad Recall Prompts as a Retrieval Practice Strategy to Encourage Durable Learning

Ask students to close their books and put their notes away. Now ask a broad recall question. Below are some examples. 

  • Use the next 3 minutes to write down everything you remember from the previous lecture/video/activity/page, etc. 
  • Write down 3 things you remember from this lesson. 
  • List one thing you learned, one thing you already knew (or thought you knew and now know you misunderstood), and something you are still confused about. 
  • In 1-2 sentences, how would you describe what you just learned/read/watched to your family at the dinner table?  
  • What are two things you learned in last week’s lesson? 
  • Write down everything you remember about xyz topic that we discussed last week. 
  • In your own words, explain how the xyz reaction behaves. 

This can be done in real-time in a traditional classroom or using technology, such as H5P or a survey, quiz, or discussion board in your LMS in an online class.  

Broad Recall Question

Close your notes and resist the urge to look back at the lesson material, Now take 3 minutes to write down everything you remember from the previous video.

Asking students to close their books, put away their notes and write down what they have learned about a topic is an effective way to help students remember and learn. You can do this at the end of a topic, lecture, video, etc. Repeating similar questions at spaced intervals, such as at the end of a unit, or before or after the next lecture, will increase the retention benefits of the exercise.

Allowing students an opportunity to check their recall is a good idea. This can be done by allowing 2 – 3 minutes for students to look back at their notes or doing a quick Think-Pair-Share activity immediately following the broad recall activity.

There is no need to grade this activity, although attaching a small grade in an online class might increase the student’s engagement with the activity.


This practice can be used online, using interactive tools like H5P, or in your LMS using surveys, quizzes, and discussion forums. It is also effective in resident and hybrid courses. 

Related Examples