147: Learning Strategies



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  • Involve several processes:
    • metacognition:
      • knowing how to monitor one’s misunderstanding
    • self-regulated learning:
      • intentional use of metacognition to learn
      • selecting strategies and environments most conducive to learning
        • selecting effective strategies can become automatic as students become more expert in specific disciplines
      • monitoring learning processes to adjust effort to meet demands of those processes
      • fighting urge to give up on learning processes
      • multiple phases of self regulation:
        1. judging one’s cognitive abilities (judgment of learning or JOL)
          • seeing connections between current tasks and prior knowledge
          • assessing difficulty of tasks
          • using knowledge of what one knows and needs-to-know to apply more or less effort as needed
            • common pitfall – stopping effort too soon before knowledge is obtained
        2. assessing factors related to academic tasks and how they impact one’s learning
          • setting goals and planning to meet these
          • deciding on standards that will determine success of efforts
        3. selecting cognitive strategies that improve performance
          • changing strategies (if needed) to learn better
        4. major reconfiguration of student’s approach to future tasks based on experience
          • happens rarely
      • multiple phases are iterative in nature
      • types of self regulation processes:
        • Cognitive strategies:
          • practicing, rehearsal
          • organization and elaboration
            • organizing and elaborating on information is more effective than just remembering information
          • deep processing: applying study tactics such as
            • finding relationships between old and new material,
            • rearranging knowledge into meaningful structures (schematic)
        • Metacognitive strategies:
          • self-evaluations
          • goal setting and monitoring
        • Resource-oriented strategies:
          • information seeking
          • record keeping
          • seeking social assistance
          • creating favorable learning environments
    • goal setting
      • setting and regulating monitoring progress towards goals
      • changing approaches to better reach goals
  • Possible effects of learning strategies:
    • increase productivity of academic behaviors -> better academic performance
    • better academic performance -> better sense of self efficacy
    • better self efficacy -> more academic perseverance
    • better academic performance -> enhanced academic mindsets
  • Possible causes of learning strategies:
    • students with academic mindsets are more likely to use learning strategies
  • Possible effects of LACK OF of learning strategies:
    • poor academic behaviors -> poor academic performance
    • students are less likely to complete homework or study for tests when they lack strategies to do these tasks effectively
    • poor grades -> poor academic mindsets -> lessen academic perseverance
  • Possible causes of POOR learning strategies:
    • poor academic mindsets -> less likely to use learning strategies
  • Students who use self regulation strategies tend to perform better in learning activities / tasks.
  • Students with high self efficacy tend to use metacognition and self regulation strategies more.
  • Self regulation is a strong predictor of academic achievement.
  • Students who perceive learning as understanding (not memorizing) tend to use more strategies to learn.
  • Metacognitive strategies can be learned.
  • Effective metacognitive strategies that can be taught:
    • awareness of textual inconsistency
    • self questioning to monitor and develop comprehension and to make one aware of problem solving steps
  • Use of several metacognitive strategies improved reading comprehension
  • Metacognitive strategies assist with learning at higher thinking levels
  • Teaching learnings strategies in context of a course makes better than teaching them in isolation
  • Transfer of learning strategies to new subjects requires:
    • basis of how strategy works
    • when / where strategy works
    • what it requires of learner
    • the farther the transfer, the more conditional knowledge is needed
  • Math cues that increased metacognition:
    • what is the problem about?
    • what steps would you use to solve this problem
    • these cues helped students draw on prior knowledge, identify problem structures, and evaluate effectiveness of problem solving processes
  • Bootstrapping approach to developing learning strategies:
    • students learn strategies through trial and error or by observing others
    • bootstrapping occurs more in students with academic mindsets
  • Limitation of research = based on self reporting of use of strategies
  • Ways to improve learning
    • paying attention to their thinking as they read, write and problem solve
  • Learning strategies tend to be subject-specific -> content-area classrooms are key places to learn strategies
  • Classroom environments that foster academic mindsets make it more likely for students to apply learning strategies (not enough to simply teach strategies – need mindsets too)
  • Timely ongoing feedback helps students monitor the effectiveness of their approaches to learning.
  • Self assessments of performance helps students practice metacognitive strategies of self-reflection and critique of learning.
  • Teach subject-specific metacognitive strategies.  See math cues above as examples.
  • Transfer of subject-specific strategies is more likely to occur when strategies are taught in context of a specific subject.
  • Reading specific metacognitive strategies that can be taught
    • recognizing when one doesn’t understand reading
    • using strategies to redirect and refocus comprehension such as
      • rereading,
      • back and forth search strategies,
      • self questioning – comparing text to prior knowledge
      • comparing main ideas of text with details of text
  • Strategies that can be taught:
    • students talk about their thinking as they plan their approach to an academic task
      • paired problem solving – one students explains how they will solve problem while another listens and asks clarifying questions
      • reciprocal teaching – dialog between teacher and students that involves text summaries, question generation, clarifications, and predictions of what till happen next
    • Thinker Tools Inquiry Curriculum
      • Physics curriculum that has students compare virtual experiments to experiments performed on actual objects
      • Encourages metacognition by having students reflect on their own processes of investigation
    • students can learn to identify challenges to academic behaviors and apply appropriate strategies to move forward
    • self regulation strategies that can be taught:
      • mental contrasting – comparing one’s vision for desired future with existing constraints / obstacles that can impede goals
      • implementation intentions – identifying steps to reach one’s goals  written in the form of if statements – if this happens, then I will do this …
      • Applying two strategies above can increase academic perseverance
    • literacy techniques:
      • previewing reading passages
      • restating main ideas in one’s own words
    • test taking strategies:
      • using note cards to quiz themselves
      • making up test questions
      • playing review games
    • goal setting strategies
      • setting aside regular time to set and monitor progress towards goals
  • Very few research studies were designed to investigate gender and race related effects
  • Lack of research is not a proof that this can work
  • Learning strategies make academic behaviors more effective and more likely -> deeper learning and higher achievement
  • Students with academic mindsets are more likely to apply learning strategies.
  • Classrooms serve 2 key purposes – teach learning strategies and promote academic mindsets
Teaching learning strategies can encourage students to pursue more effective academic behaviors long enough that they can help students learn.  Teaching subject-specific learning strategies helps students learn content.  Teaching students the underlying hows / whys / whens of specific learning strategies makes them more able to transfer those skills to other disciplines


Preparation Steps
  • Analyze course and determine subject-specific learning strategies that are key to the success of students in the course
  • Research learning strategies.  See related articles below.
  • Select scaffolding activities that support key learning strategies for course.
  • Create classroom culture that promotes Academic mindsets
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement scaffolding of learning strategies in the contexts where they are most useful.
  • Ask students to reflect on how learning strategies are affecting their learning.
  • Use student reflections to fine tune scaffolding of learning strategies.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Use observations and student feedback on learning strategies to learn which strategies to incorporate into classroom routines.
  • Collect student stories of using learning strategies to overcome challenges in order to inspire future students

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