Formative quizzes and retrieval practice

Brightspace’s quiz functionality is a really useful tool for running regular formative quizzes on your unit, helping to reinforce key learning points and aiding students in checking their understanding. The quiz tool also lends itself to promoting learning through retrieval learning or retrieval practice.

What is retrieval practice?

Research shows that learning occurs not just at the point of digesting information, but more effectively when that information is drawn upon. And there is evidence that this recalling of knowledge reduces forgetting and boosts summative grades:

Retrieval practice boosts learning by pulling information out of students’ heads, rather than cramming information into students’ heads.

Tips for using Brightspace quizzes for retrieval practice

  • Build your quiz questions within the Question Library. You can create separate folders to organise your questions into your different weekly topics.
  • Set up a weekly formative quiz using the relevant topic bank in your Question Library.
  • As the weeks progress, add in a few questions from the topic banks of previous weeks. Each week students answer questions on that week’s topic, plus a random question(s) from previous weeks’ learning. You can easily do this by using the Question Pool option to pull in a specified number of questions from your previous weekly topic folders.

Engaging your students

  • Set your quizzes with Unlimited attempts to encourage students to revisit quizzes and recap on their learning
  • Consider adding Hints to questions to encourage students to attempt each question and help embed learning
  • Award online badges based on the level of result achieved to motivate students to improve their scores

Benefits to staff

As well as saving time by reusing existing resources, this approach means quiz statistics can be easily reviewed enabling tutors to see the topic areas where students might be consistently getting lower scores and so may require additional resources or support.

Further help and guidance

You can find further help and guidance on using the Brightspace quiz tool in the Brightspace Staff Resources area or talk to your Faculty Learning Technologist.

Refs: Unleash Learning, LLC, 2023. What is Retrieval practice? [online]. available from [Accessed 20 February 2023]



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