Retrieval practice and the maintenance of knowledge

Author: Robert Bjork

Year: 1988

Paper Description

This paper is a synopsis of the research into the effect of retriveval practice on human capacity to recall information/knowledge from memory. It proposes an optimum approach to the spacing of retrieval attempts and stresses the importance of retrieval practice as a core facet of the learning process.

Key Takeaway 1

Earlier retrieval attempts have the capacity to aid later retreival attempts and we can consider the initial attempts as practice for subsequent attempts. Retrieval has an effect on both the item’s place in memory and the process of retrieval itself.

Key Takeaway 2

Retrieval practice opportunities should be spaced in such a way that the distance between attempts increases over time. This has a positive effect on the likelihood of success in retriving the relevant item from long-term memory with each attempt.

Standout Quote

“…without being accessed periodically, information in memory – however well learned – eventually becomes inaccessible…”


memory, retrieval practice, cognitive science, brain, learning, remembering, knowledge, maintenance, thinking, forgetting, disuse, recognition, environment, context, cognitive psychology, encoding