Dunlosky et al.
McCown, & Biehler, 2009; Sternberg & Williams, 2010;Woolfolk, 2007). Despite the promise of some of the tech-niques, many of these textbooks did not provide sufficientcoverage, which would include up-to-date reviews of their efficacy and analyses of their generalizability and potentiallimitations. Accordingly, for all of the learning techniqueslisted in Table 1, we reviewed the literature to identify the gen-eralizability of their benefits across four categories of vari-ables—materials, learning conditions, student characteristics,and criterion tasks. The choice of these categories was inspired by Jenkins’ (1979) model (for an example of its use in educa-tional contexts, see Marsh & Butler, in press), and examples of each category are presented in Table 2.
pertain to thespecific content that students are expected to learn, remember,or comprehend.
pertain to aspects of the context in which students are interacting with the to-be-learned materials. These conditions include aspects of thelearning environment itself (e.g., noisiness vs. quietness in aclassroom), but they largely pertain to the way in which alearning technique is implemented. For instance, a techniquecould be used only once or many times (a variable referred toas
) when students are studying, or a technique could beused when students are either reading or listening to the to-be-learned materials.Any number of
could also influencethe effectiveness of a given learning technique. For example,in comparison to more advanced students, younger students inearly grades may not benefit from a technique. Students’ basiccognitive abilities, such as working memory capacity or gen-eral fluid intelligence, may also influence the efficacy of agiven technique. In an educational context, domain knowledgerefers to the valid, relevant knowledge a student brings to alesson. Domain knowledge may be required for students to usesome of the learning techniques listed in Table 1. For instance,
Learning TechniquesTechniqueDescription1. Elaborative interrogationGenerating an explanation for why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true2. Self-explanationExplaining how new information is related to known information, or explaining steps takenduring problem solving3. SummarizationWriting summaries (of various lengths) of to-be-learned texts4. Highlighting/underliningMarking potentially important portions of to-be-learned materials while reading5. Keyword mnemonicUsing keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials6. Imagery for textAttempting to form mental images of text materials while reading or listening7. RereadingRestudying text material again after an initial reading8. Practice testingSelf-testing or taking practice tests over to-be-learned material9. Distributed practiceImplementing a schedule of practice that spreads out study activities over time10. Interleaved practiceImplementing a schedule of practice that mixes different kinds of problems, or a schedule of study that mixes different kinds of material, within a single study session
Note. See text for a detailed description of each learning technique and relevant examples of their use.
Examples of the Four Categories of Variables for GeneralizabilityMaterialsLearning conditions Student characteristics
Criterion tasksVocabularyAmount of practice (dosage)AgeCued recallTranslation equivalentsOpen- vs. closed-book practicePrior domain knowledgeFree recallLecture contentReading vs. listeningWorking memory capacityRecognitionScience definitionsIncidental vs. intentional learningVerbal abilityProblem solvingNarrative textsDirect instructionInterestsArgument developmentExpository textsDiscovery learningFluid intelligenceEssay writingMathematical conceptsRereading lags
MotivationCreation of portfoliosMapsKind of practice tests
Prior achievementAchievement testsDiagramsGroup vs. individual learningSelf-efficacyClassroom quizzes
Some of these characteristics are more state based (e.g., motivation) and some are more trait based (e.g., fluid intelligence); this distinction isrelevant to the malleability of each characteristic, but a discussion of this dimension is beyond the scope of this article.
Learning condition is specific to rereading.
Learning condition is specific to practice testing.