How students can use cognitive learning strategies with Kialo Edu

Given the amount of information students face today, it’s no surprise that teachers seek to integrate different strategies to help students process this sometimes complex content. One particular challenge is to help them retain class content in a meaningful way so they can continue to build on it and expand their knowledge. This is where cognitive learning strategies can help.

Some teachers incorporate specific techniques into their classes to enhance learning and retention. These techniques can also equip students with the tools to understand how they can learn and study effectively.1 Best of all, you can try these techniques on Kialo Edu!

Such cognitive learning strategies may be challenging for students — and that’s alright! They require students to actively engage with the content they’re trying to learn rather than passively reviewing it, which requires significant effort but ultimately helps them become effective learners.

How can Kialo Edu discussions help with cognitive learning strategies? 

Kialo Edu discussions are already designed to support effective and active learning. When it comes to helping students grapple with complex information, teachers can use our discussions to break the information into manageable chunks in an organized space. Not only that, Kialo Edu discussions engage students in enriching knowledge building exercises that encourage them to explore topics from different angles.

We’ve outlined some suggestions below to help ensure your students can successfully utilize cognitive strategies to retain information using Kialo Edu discussions.

Using cognitive learning strategies for review with Kialo Edu discussions

1. Easily revisit past Kialo Edu discussions to review content

One of the great things about Kialo Edu is that you can easily store and revisit discussions. For students, this means they have content clearly laid out in a meaningful way to help them study for exams. Teachers can also take advantage of this to bring regular review into the classroom.

If the Kialo Edu discussion has specific concepts students need to know, reviewing it at spaced intervals can help commit the content to memory. Similarly, if a discussion contains need-to-know information for students before they tackle a new topic on the curriculum, reviewing it quickly can provide a level of scaffolding to ensure students get off on the right foot.

You can make a discussion review more active by asking students to comment on claims. Depending on the context, they might make new observations, noting something they feel is unclear or why a claim has a high or low impact vote.

A discussion review as a cognitive learning strategy, where a student comments on a claim to question how impactful one part of the claim is.

You can also help students make connections between topics by returning to previous discussions. After covering a new topic, return to the original discussion to seek out new insights and draw deeper connections. There is also the option to link the contents of a Kialo Edu discussion to another one, or to link claims between discussions to make the connections more explicit and to gradually build up content.

2. Incorporate regular low-stakes assessment for information retrieval

It’s one thing to read about a concept and another to recall or explain it. Students may overestimate what they have learned when the information seems easy to process, so regular testing or retrieval practice can be very beneficial.

Retrieval practice challenges students to recall information rather than recognize it, so they are actively engaging with the content at hand. The key here is that it is a low-stakes type of assessment for the student, intended to promote learning and identify knowledge gaps. 

Using quizzes for retrieval practice

Using quizzes alongside a Kialo Edu discussion is one easy way to bring retrieval practice into your classroom. After a discussion, task small groups of students to generate quiz questions collaboratively on the content covered in the discussion.

The act of actually creating the questions prompts students to consider the subject matter more deeply, identifying gaps in their own understanding in the process. Students will see what they struggle to explain or what they’ve forgotten. 

Using open-ended questions to explain concepts

Guide students to create open-ended questions that challenge their peers to explain and link concepts. Then, compile their questions to be used for a quick retrieval session at the start of a class, or as a warmer for new content. Students can refer back to the original discussion to check their answers or refresh what they’ve forgotten.

Creating concept maps to organize information

Another retrieval activity is to simply write the thesis of the previously used Kialo Edu discussion on your whiteboard and task students with quickly jotting down everything they can remember about it. Then, ask them to organize all the information into a mind map or a concept map — easy to set up but challenging to actually do!

3. Task students with explaining content in their own words

Asking students to summarize and explain class content requires them to reprocess, condense and organize the information in a way that makes sense to them. We can also encourage them to engage in elaboration strategies, whereby they expand on learned information, relating it to their own experience and existing knowledge.

Practicing this with Kialo Edu discussions can be as straightforward as asking students to write an informative summary of what they learned during the discussion. Then, have them comment on the summary from their own point of view.

An oral summary is a particularly challenging alternative. Ask students to prepare first by making a quick mind map of the key points and words covered in the Kialo Edu discussion. The argument mapping structure of the Kialo Edu discussion can give them an idea as one possible structure for their mind map, but encourage them to make it their own! Then, give students time to consider the best way to present the information and connection between the points. Where would an example be useful to illustrate a point, for instance?

It can also be very helpful for teachers to model these speaking tasks by using think-alouds to make their own thought processes clear. When students are ready, put them in pairs or small groups to give their summaries and help each other fill in any gaps in their understanding. 

4. Make time for student reflection

Building time for reflection into class activities gives students the opportunity to look at the content again from another perspective while thinking about their own learning process. It can help them become more efficient in their learning and ultimately empower them to independently study more effectively. Reflection can also draw students’ attention to the progress they’ve made and where they still need to direct their attention.

Before students start a Kialo Edu discussion, give them time to consider the value of the discussion and topic at hand. Do they have any experience or content knowledge from other disciplines or the outside world to guide them? How might previous classes tie into this discussion? In this way, teachers not only set the stage for a successful discussion, but they can also help students see the relevance of information across different contexts to promote knowledge transfer.

Giving students dedicated time to reflect on the theses or starter claims before starting a discussion can help them see links between content areas and promote transfer.

After a Kialo Edu discussion, leave time for students to reflect on their experience to guide them towards even deeper understanding. Pose thoughtful questions to prompt students, such as exploring whether student opinions had changed over the course of the discussion. Or, simply ask students to identify claims that they found surprising or particularly interesting!  

Students are expected to take in and process a huge amount of information, whether that’s memorizing important dates and definitions, or explaining the reasoning behind concepts and approaches. We hope we’ve given you some ideas about how Kialo Edu discussions can help with this! Please do share any techniques you find helpful by contacting us on social media or directly at



  1. Study examining the role of metacognition in helping students use effective learning strategies: Tanner. K. D. (2012). Promoting Student Metacognition. CBE—Life Sciences Education Vol. 11, 113–120.

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