Encoding and Retrieval

A Chemical Orthodoxy

One of our student teachers had a bit of a difficult time in a Q&A sequence at the beginning of the lesson. As part of our subsequent discussion, we looked at the difference between encoding and retrieval and how the “craft” of what we are doing in the classroom changes depending on our aims. The below is my summary of our conversation.

Encoding is the process of moving information into your long term memory (LTM) via your working memory (WM) i.e. learning new things

Retrieval is the process of pulling information out of your long term memory and into your working memory. This strengthens the memory in the long term.

Any good explanation should have plenty of questions to the students but these two activities should be conducted very differently, and a lot of the time Q&A sequences come unstuck because of a flaw in one of them. I’ve summarised…

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