Recap: Link, Learn and Like

How learners learn and how to optimise that learning process are issues of interest to both learners and educators. According to the model of learning process of students introduced by Yang et al. (2019), the learning process of students starts from the sensory input in a classroom to the working memory and long-term memory. Forgetting is a big hindrance in the learning process of students. To optimise the learning process of students, multiple learning opportunities should be provided so that students can consolidate what they have learned and retain information in the long-term memory as much as possible and have chances to retrieve it. Drawing on the results of my recent research project on recap, in this blog post I will discuss the dynamic use of recaps as one way to provide multiple learning opportunities and promote the links in the learning process of students, between students and instructors and among instructors.  

Figure 1: Model of learning process of students (Yang et al., 20191

Recap is a summary of what has been mentioned before. In the educational setting, recap is a brief summary of the main points of a previous teaching session or of what has been introduced earlier within a teaching session. Recap can be used in a variety of forms such as simulation, testing questions, verbal only discussion or a combination of verbal, visual and written elements including PowerPoint slides, Mentimeter slides and quizzes.  

The dynamic use of recap to promote the links in the learning process of students 

Students are diverse in terms of their backgrounds, learning habits, levels of preparation, understanding ability, learning styles and personalities. Our students come from different countries with different cultures and different entry modes to a course. For example, in a third-year module, we may have students who have been studying with us from year 1 as well as final year direct entry students. Students have different learning habits and levels of preparation before a teaching session. My recent research findings show that 11% of the students rarely prepare before attending a teaching session and more than 3% only go through the teaching materials when they need to do the assessments. Students are also often mixed in their ability to understand. Some students can understand immediately after their first learning opportunity while others may need to have multiple learning opportunities to understand and memorise the same content, especially international students with language and cultural barriers and neuro-diverse students. In addition, students have different learning styles and personalities. Students with a visual memory can learn and remember better by seeing things while students with auditory memory can process information and learn better by listening. Some students are extroverted while others can be introverted. The diversity of students results in diverse needs in the learning process. In addition, my research project finds that one of the biggest challenges in the learning process of students is that they find it difficult to link different contents with each other and connect themselves as a learner with other learners in the same teaching session as well as the instructor of the session.  

The dynamic use of recaps cannot only cater for different learning needs but also promote the links in the learning process of students. In an interview, one first year student says: “It is useful and helps me recall main points because I do not always remember what study in lectures, not always watch videos and read slides before attending a class”. Similarly, a second-year student says: “I think for me personally, when I learn something new before, the recaps can help to link back to that before I can carry on with the next new stuff, so that like connect them together. And, if I forget something I learned last time or not really sure about what I learned last time, the recaps can clear that up.”  

For many students, recaps can be a short period of time for engaging, interaction, discussion, sharing ideas and clarifying any possible misunderstanding of learning contents. Recapping in the forms of simulation, discussion or testing questions can provide students with opportunities to engage more with teaching materials, with their classmates and the instructor, promoting the feeling of belonging to a learning session. This is particularly helpful for introverted students. One second year student in an interview explains: “Some students, myself included, might be afraid to ask questions sometimes and recaps can clarify some of the questions that we may have but we are afraid to ask either because we feel silly to ask or maybe we are embarrassed to ask”. Another student shares the view: “Sometimes it’s hard for people something they have never encountered before. In my first year, I came to the tutorials with things and people I’d never seen in my entire life before. So, I think it’s definitely helpful”.  

The dynamic use of recap to promote the links within teaching teams 

Students value the use of recap and can see many benefits for their learning process. However, the use of recap can be inconsistent within a teaching team. In many cases, especially for big modules, we often teach in a team. It is not so often that we can have an ideal teaching team due to issues relating to resources or different teaching styles. My research findings show that 63% of the 82 teaching colleagues in the survey have been allocated to teach in at least one module that is not in their direct expertise. Many colleagues also have experience teaching in new modules. In such cases, it is often challenging for them to run a teaching session and takes a lot of time for them to prepare. Different tutors in the teaching team of a module if preparing their recaps separately can have different focuses in their teaching sessions and can deliver different messages to students although the class is on the same topic. This is a problem that students also raised concerns about in my research project. Module leaders often know their modules best. They are often responsible for designing teaching materials and what they want the teaching team to deliver to the students. Therefore, module leaders can play a vital role in ensuring the consistent use of recap in their modules by providing recap as part of the teaching materials. This can be particularly helpful for new members in a teaching team or those teaching in modules that are not in their direct expertise. My research findings show that 51% of our colleagues expect module leaders to provide recaps as part of the teaching materials and 45% of our colleagues would prefer to prepare their recaps so that they can tailor to their teaching styles but recaps from module leaders can still be very helpful.  

Figure 2: Dynamic use of recap to optimise students’ learning and collaboration in teaching teams 

Conclusion and Recommendations 

Our university has just introduced the new strategy with the vision to 2030. In the strategy, inclusivity is one of the core values and personalised teaching and student success are among the priorities. The dynamic use of recap in teaching practices can provide students with multiple learning opportunities, optimise their learning experiences and contribute to their learning success regardless of their backgrounds, learning styles and personalities. Therefore, it can somehow contribute to the materialisation of the values and priorities in the new strategy and vision of our university. Some of the following recommendations can be applied to ensure the effective use of recap in teaching practices.  

First, recap should be used dynamically. Recap can be used at the beginning, during or at the end of a teaching session. Recap can also be used after some sessions or at the end of a course to sum up.  

Second, a variety of forms of recap should be used in order to avoid the pitfalls of boredom. Recap can be used in the forms of simulation, discussion, testing questions, in the verbal only form or a combination between verbal, visual and written elements.  

Third, the length of a recap should be dependent on the nature of each topic, but should be short, concise and highly synthesised. Whole session recap can be used after many topics or at the end of a course.  

Fourth, the use of recap should be consistent with the topic of the previous session or what has been introduced earlier within a teaching session, between sessions and between members in the teaching team.  

Fifth, module leaders may want to prepare and provide recap as part of the teaching materials in their modules to ensure consistent use, which is particularly helpful for new staff and those teaching in modules that are not in their direct expertise. 

Blog Author

Dr Duyen Chu
Teaching Fellow in Strategy and Management
Department of Systems Management and Strategy
Greenwich Business School


Yang, B.W., Razo, J. and Persky, A.M. (2019) Using Testing as a Learning Tool. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 2019; 83 (9) Article 7324. 

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *