7 Creative Retrieval Practice Activities To Include In Your Online Training Course

7 Creative Retrieval Practice Activities To Include In Your Online Training Course
Summary: The memory is a tricky thing. Information tends to get tucked away for future use, then vanishes into thin cerebral air. In this article, I’ll share 7 creative retrieval practice activities to include in your online training course to improve knowledge retention.

Retrieval Practice Activities To Consider For Your Online Training Course

Retrieval is the fine art of accessing information that you’ve stored in your memory banks, and reinforcing key concepts. Which helps lessen the forgetting curve and ensures that the takeaways are actually taken away with you into the future. Instead of being left behind due to lack of use. It isn’t just about recapping the information by reading a summary or cramming before a big exam. Retrieval relies on the application, enhanced understanding, and forming new connections with existing mental schema. Below are 7 creative ways that you can incorporate retrieval practice activities into your online training course.

7 Inspired Retrieval Practice Resources For Online Training

1. Employee-Hosted Events

Employees need to fully understand the subject matter in order to teach it. Which makes live online training events ideal among retrieval practice activities. Assign topics or let them choose their own. Then invite them to host an event that explores every facet of the challenge, task, or compliance issue. Researching the topic and recalling what they learned during their online training will reinforce the knowledge. Likewise, the attendees will be able to refresh their memory and actively retrieve ideas during the event. Think of it as a more social way to jog the mind and tie information to a favorable emotional experience.

2. Skill-Based Simulations

The real-world-application benefits of simulations are well known. However, these powerful online training tools can also facilitate retrieval activities and improve skill mastery. For example, the simulation centers on a task that involves problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Employees must call on their existing knowledge and talents to handle the customer issue or land the sale. They must delve into their memory to not only recall the information but apply it in novel situations and contexts.

3. Serious Games

Serious games are one of the most entertaining retrieval practice activities. Employees must draw on their knowledge base to get to the next level or earn the required points. You can even turn it into a game show with a retro motif to test their know-how and refresh their memory. The key is to get them to recall and apply knowledge without even realizing they’re doing it. It occurs organically while they’re trying to reach that finish line. However, serious games also allow them to gather eLearning feedback as they progress. Thereby, improving behaviors and correcting mistakes before they are deeply enveloped in their personal cognitions.

4. Before And After Pop Quizzes

Offer your employees a pop quiz before the online training course to test their knowledge. Then follow up with another, after the online training course, to see how far they’ve come and reinforce their key takeaways. Many organizations incorporate a formal assessment at the end to evaluate overall mastery. But these bite-sized quizzes help employees focus on one topic or task at a time so that they can actively retrieve the information they just learned while solidifying pre-existing knowledge.

5. Daily Blog Prompts

Post a daily prompt or question on your corporate eLearning blog that focuses on a topic you’ve covered in the past few days or weeks. Employees must search their memory banks for the answer or related ideas. Then articulate their response and add it to the comment section. Peers can read one another’s replies and provide eLearning feedback. Or simply spot personal sticking points or inaccuracies. For example, a co-worker realizes that they misunderstood the compliance issue when they participated in the online training course last month. However, this one of retrieval practice activities clarifies the confusion and gives them the chance to reinforce concepts that were accurate. Take it a step further by letting employees launch their own corporate eLearning blogs where they can post weekly prompts and examine different topics at-length.

6. Employee Debates

Invite employees to choose one viewpoint regarding an online training topic, then debate with their peers online. Things should be civil, and everyone should respect other perspectives. Set some guidelines and steer clear of controversial issues that may create conflict. The goal of this exercise is to encourage employees to retrieve the information they learned and explore related concepts. For instance, the employee argues that method A is a better way to perform the customer service task. They need to be familiar with the benefits of that method, the steps involved, and how to mitigate its risks. All this requires them to dig into their memory banks and not just remember their training but contextualize the knowledge. Organize and manipulate it in such a way that they can use it to defend their viewpoint and claim victory.

7. Storytelling

There are two ways to approach this last one of the retrieval practice activities presented here. The first is to incorporate stories into your eLearning course design so that employees can retrieve information and reflect on the topic. Such as what they would do in a similar situation or how the knowledge can help them improve work performance. The second approach is to invite them to tell their own tales. This may be in the form of a podcast, slideshow, or presentation. By sharing the story, employees draw on their memory to not just convey the information but put it into a realistic framework. For instance, how they applied the negotiation skills or compliance knowledge on the job. Once again, this is a great way to facilitate peer-to-peer interactions and allow them to explore the topics from different perspectives.


These 7 retrieval practice activities go beyond merely recalling the information and help corporate learners assign meaning. The subject matter becomes enmeshed with their mental pathways rather than being temporarily stored in their memory banks. However, different tools work for different people. So, you should research your audience and identify their behaviors, preferences, and pre-existing knowledge to personalize your online training strategy.

We all know that memory plays an important part in the learning process, but how exactly do you design a ‘sticky’ online training course? Download our eBook Breaking Into The Industry: Become An Instructional Designer And Master The LXD Fundamentals for tips to create memorable eLearning experiences.