Study Strategies (page 2)
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.
Students who read and then answer questions tend to learn more than students who only read (Peverly & Wood, 2001). Answering prepared questions often seems like busywork to students, but it can be a potent study strategy.
Self-questioning taps learners’ creativity. To learn how to self-question, students might be encouraged to pattern their questions after the teacher’s, using certain stems like the following:
- What have I learned about _______?
- What should I remember about _______?
- What does _______ mean?
- What are the components of _______?
- How are _______ and _______ alike? How are _______ and _______ different?
- What are the strengths of _______? What are the limitations of _______?
- What caused _______ to happen?
- How does _______ affect _______?
- How does _______ relate to what I already know? How does _______ relate to _______ in the passage?
- What does _______ look (and sound) like?
- What is the significance of _______?
More open-ended self-questions include the following:
- What might be other examples of _______?
- What conclusion can I draw about _______?
- Why is it important that _______?
- What would happen if _______?
- What do I have to say about _______?
Organizing Information Graphically
Graphic representations arrange key terms in order to depict their relationships. Outlines, time lines, Venn diagrams, and webs are different formats for graphically organizing concepts. They all show how selected concepts are organized. A graphic representation of the desert, for example, could consist of terms arranged about such topics as climate, location, plant life, and animal life; it would not be an illustrated scene of coyotes and cactuses.
Although such strategies as defining learning expectations and questioning might involve writing, study strategies grouped under this heading typically refer to other techniques. Writing strategies that promote learning progress from simply recording facts to assimilating and reflecting on bodies of knowledge. These strategies activate thinking when learners compose the message; they also provide a record for review or revision.
Study cards are one kind of writing strategy. Each study card usually contains a question or vocabulary term on one side with a corresponding answer or definition on the other. These cards are especially useful for factual learning. Many students would not have been successful in fact-filled courses without resorting to study cards.
Note taking is another writing strategy that promotes learning. Note taking assumes many forms. Learners sometimes copy definitions and key ideas verbatim from a passage, comment in the margins of texts, paraphrase information, or add personal examples. They benefit from rewriting their notes, clarifying and consolidating information from class presentations and readings.
Summarizing uses writing to involve learners in selecting and condensing important information. When summarizing, students may abstract important contents.
Learning logs/journals are a variation of class notebooks that require summarization. Students summarize when they record information from class presentations, readings, or outside experiences. Later, students sometimes develop their summaries into more lengthy compositions. In addition, they sometimes use learning logs or journals to pose questions or state confusions about what they are learning. Many mathematics teachers have students write—rather than orally ask—questions about their homework in order to clarify the questions. This practice often leads the students to reach independent solutions.
Essays that call for integration of subject matter or persuasive writing from a particular point of view are forms of writing that powerfully promote content learning, even though they are also time consuming for teachers to read. Most of us still remember papers we wrote in high school and college classes even though we have forgotten much of the rest we learned in those courses.
© ______ 2007, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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