Proficient learners merge individual thinking processes into study strategies. Strategies are plans for accomplishing specific actions. They are how-to forms of knowledge (Kiewra, 2002). When summarizing material, for instance, learners might apply strategies such as identifying topic sentences, disregarding redundant information, and collapsing ideas into single statements. Practically all meaningful learning with print elicits some evidence of strategies. The following study strategies are used and recommended often:
Defining Learning Expectations
- Setting a purpose
- Answering prepared questions
Organizing Information Graphically
- Time line
- Flow chart
- Venn diagram
- Cause-and-effect chain
- Study card
- Note taking
- Learning log/ Journal
Creating Mnemonic Devices
Creating Special Word Associations
- Meaningful word parts
- Idiosyncratic associations
- Mnemonic keyword method
Defining Learning Expectations
Proficient learners define expectations by clarifying what they intend to learn. They create multistep plans for bringing thought into the learning act. One way of defining learning expectations is previewing, when proficient learners look over what they are to learn before examining it closely. They preview printed materials by surveying many sources of information: titles, headings, italic and boldface print, and other typographical aids; illustrations, maps, graphs, and other pictorial aids; introductions, first sentences of paragraphs, summaries, and conclusions; guiding questions, stated objectives, end-of-chapter exercises, and other adjunct aids. Previewing helps learners define learning expectations by establishing a general idea of what a passage has to offer.
Another aspect of defining learning expectations involves setting a purpose. Learners set purposes when they discern what they should acquire from a passage, lecture, video, CD, DVD, or other teaching device. Learners incorporate what they gathered from a preview with their understanding of the learning task to decide what deserves special attention. They attend to their instructors’ stated and unstated cues about what they should learn. The age-old tradition of “psyching out” vague instructors to anticipate what should be in a paper or might be on a test exemplifies part of this strategy. When learners set a purpose, they decide what they want to or need to learn and go after it.
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