Compensatory strategies are thinking strategies that empower the reader to have a reflective cognitive learning style that renders interactive and meaningful dialogue between the reader and the printed page.
Individuals with dyslexia and other learning disabilities may sometimes have an impulsive cognitive style (Walker, 1985) or learning/thinking styles that are reactive (and reactions are too quick) as opposed to interactive. Adequate considerations are not given to hypothesis testing, weighing alternatives, and strategic planning. A reflective cognitive learning style is one that is paced to the requirements of a reading task with metacognitive (thinking) skills and self-monitoring in place. Having a reflective cognitive learning style allows the reader to respond purposively and meaningfully to the printed page. Compensatory strategies are those activities that promote the acquisition of reflective cognitive learning styles. A cognitive strategy-instruction approach is one way to develop reflective cognitive learning styles.
Swanson's Cognitive Strategy Instruction Guidelines
Swanson (1989, 1993) proposes three principles for effective cognitive strategy instruction for individuals who are dyslexic: (1) Always keep in mind that there is no one best strategy to use- different strategies can effect different cognitive outcomes; (2) consider the individual- what works for one individual may not work for another; and (3) be parsimonious- use only the strategies necessary to accomplish your goal and that's all!
Deshler's Strategies Intervention Model
One cognitive strategies model that has been used successfully with adolescents with dyslexia is that of Deshler and his colleagues, developed at the University of Kansas Institute for Research in Learning Disabilities (KU-IRLD) (Deshler, Alley, & Carlson, 1980; Deshler, Schumaker, Lenz, & Ellis, 1984; Deshler & Schumaker, 1986; Schumaker, Deshler, Alley, Warner, & Denton, 1982). Deshler and his associates propose that the teacher or appropriate professional establish a student's current level of reading/language functioning through testing. The teacher would then model appropriate cognitive learning strategies with verbal rehearsal/practice. Positive and corrective feedback is used when the teacher monitors the student implementing a strategy. Post-testing assesses growth in learning and effectiveness of strategies usage. According to the National Reading Panel Report (2000), comprehension monitoring, cooperative learning, the use of semantic organizers, question generation, and question answering are the most effective comprehensive strategies.
Comprehension of text requires strategic reading or the purposeful and flexible thinking person who is engaged in the task itself (Palinscar & David, 1992; Pressley et al., 1989; Ruddell, 1993; Searfoss & Readance, 1994). The comprehension of subject matter material in science, social studies, or other content areas in large measure rests on the student's ability to perceive the organization of ideas and utilize text structure to facilitate comprehension. Determining areas of need for the student with dyslexia would be a priority, and the methods/techniques chosen should be matched accordingly.
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