Lachie Macdonald

Teacher Trainee & Computer Scientist.

Standard 1

Know students and how they learn

Retrieval Roulettes

Student learning is wasted if new understanding does not find its way into long term memory. One of the most effective ways to solidify learning is through retrieval practice (Roediger & Butler, 2011).

A retrieval roulette, first created by Adam Boxer (2017), enables teachers to collate a question bank over the entirety of a course, and automatically present a selection of both interleaved and recent retrieval questions for students to attempt each lesson.

Retrieval roulette questions and answers sheet (Boxer, 2017)
Retrieval roulette questions and answers sheet (Boxer, 2017)

The use of this tool contributes to focus area 1.2, displaying a knowledge of the way students retain understanding.

Interactive Example
BossMaths customisable retrieval roulette

Roulettes like the above align with focus area 1.5, since the difficulty of some or all of the retrieval activities can be configured to increase complexity and challenge.


Self-testing has various benefits for learning, including improved retention (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006). One method of self-testing across disciplines is the use of digital flashcards. These have demonstrable benefits for retention (Schmidmaier et al., 2011).

One tool in this category is AnkiApp, a cross-platform app which can be used to create, find, group, share, and use digital flashcards (AnkiApp Inc., 2020).

AnkiApp Web flashcard demonstration
AnkiApp Web flashcard demonstration

Teachers can assign flashcards as a form of formative assessment, monitoring student progress. Students can be tasked with creating a deck, synthesizing disciplinary knowledge into review materials. This versatility, including options to use it across the range of lower to higher order thinking activities, make AnkiApp a helpful tool in line with focus area 1.5.

AnkiApp uses a spacing algorithm which optimises the retesting process to increase retention (Kornell, 2009). The use of such a research-driven tool aligns with focus area 1.2.

Ethically, while AnkiApp is a good tool to improve retention of ideas already learned, teachers must be careful not to encourage an appearance of understanding in the form of memorised facts.


AnkiApp Inc. (2022). AnkiApp. AnkiApp.
BossMaths. (2024). Maths retrieval roulette. BossMaths.
Boxer, A (2017, May 4). The retrieval roulette. A Chemical Orthodoxy.
Kornell, N. (2009). Optimising learning using flashcards: Spacing is more effective than cramming. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23(9), 1297–1317.
Roediger, H. L., & Butler, A. C. (2011). The critical role of retrieval practice in long-term retention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(1), 20–27.
Roediger, H. L., & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17(3), 249–255.
Schmidmaier, R., Ebersbach, R., Schiller, M., Hege, I., Holzer, M., & Fischer, M. R. (2011). Using electronic flashcards to promote learning in medical students: Retesting versus restudying. Medical Education, 45(11), 1101–1110.