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research report

Learning
Strategies
as a Key
to Student
Success
Nancy Protheroe
and Suzanne Clarke

Teaching metacognitive skills to students, including those with
learning disabilities, improves their academic performance.

I
n schools and classrooms across the country, educators are working to raise
the achievement of all students to ever-higher levels. Yet, often missing in
discussions about how to raise academic performance is the way in which
individual students go about learning. One aspect of a student’s approach to
learning is his or her use of learning strategies.
Franklin Hammond/Images.com Principal n November/December 2008 33

increase their willingness to take on new almost unconsciously. in turn. They learners. dent learning. executing. monitor. challenges. ability nor content knowledge. connects to improved stu. An increasingly strong research approach learning efficiently are likely cognitive skills typically have a better base points to the potential of strategy to become less persistent in addressing sense of their own strengths and needs instruction to help support struggling school tasks. especially of students who have not can present only a disjointed list of ing. Haertel. It includes how a person thinks and acts when plan- ning. “Researchers and practitioners who address a particular learning task. Among hinders performance. many of them used students how to use learning strategies. the difference between aptitude was the most influential of the strategies—not lack of ability—that these two children is neither cognitive six broad types of influences. when asked to sum- marize the main points in the chapter. is. n Increase student independence and use only one strategy when approach. They found that “student sometimes the use of ineffective Oftentimes. Now think about another child who reads a textbook but.000 statistical findings from a wide cognitive skills. and may also strategies—again. vation. 2008). For example: egy instruction in the classroom gener- Walberg (1993/1994) can help us ally agree on the how of instruction” understand just how important such n Improve student performance. Specifically. and evaluating per- formance on a task and its outcomes. including students with learn. however. metacognitive skills are to student learn. his or her learning. a the second child lacks metacognitive student’s metacognitive processes—that This last factor is especially important skills. (Clarke. there is wide variation in terms of the number of learning strategies we know and how well we use them. For example. think of a student you have known who approached new types of tasks with enthusiasm and who was typically able to “figure out” how to apply what he or she already knew to tackling a new problem. and ing a problem—even when that meth. the categories of student aptitude.com . In math. Activities such as planning. strength of the contribution of several n Help students realize that it is od repeatedly fails. We also make use of a vari- ety of strategies for helping us organize and remember—both key elements of the learning process. Three components 34 Principal n November/December 2008 Franklin Hammond/Images.” a lack of “tools” that can help them Students with better-developed meta. they are likely to ment them effectively. and evaluating and. Acquiring some additional related to the learning process. fit together. teaching their likelihood of success. Their intent was to identify the relative engagement with learning. major factors. tools—learning strategies—increases have a larger repertoire of learning ing disabilities. Students who have repeatedly progress toward completion of a learn. and also can help. Schumaker and Deshler (2006) define a learning strategy as “an individ- ual’s approach to a task. For example. most of us automatically slow down when reading content that is difficult for us to understand. because it may help to increase moti- toring comprehension. re-plan learning strat. As with many characteristics about people. most importantly. if necessary.” Much of this thinking about learning is done unconsciously. egies—had the most powerful effect on experienced failure in school due to ing task are metacognitive in nature. this child might range of studies on student learning. moni. And perhaps and helping them choose and imple. Instead. a student’s capacity to plan. Good strategy instruction have studied and applied learning strat- Researchers Wang. helps to strength- select and use the learning strategy en their metacognitive abilities—and How to Teach Learning Strategies that is most effective in helping them this. They created a knowledge base of previously developed effective meta- thoughts with little sense of how they 11.

According to Kiewra.naesp. will n  eceive more opportunities for R where else it is useful. there are three caveats more than simply hearing a description. If students learn that these strategies use of a strategy to other tasks and class. they: works. even learners have. and when and where to use marize and to “report” their summaries available. Students are tools for understanding the ideas in es (Kiewra. is also critically important. out loud” and encourage their students or one that worked well for them in gling students are likely to overload and to do the same. contrast.and grade-appropriate. the skills taught—and the understand learning strategies and how strategy instruction can be particularly approaches used to teach them— to use them “because they can see how effective. & Carr. and remind students to use appropriate discussions about a story. instruction on a new strat. Protheroe (2003) provides another ones. Otherwise.org Principal n November/December 2008 35 . instruction about strategies cognitive skills and strategy use are imme- three components. The instruction should also instruction with in-depth learning of con. learning skills are most effec. been taught in third and fourth grade primary-grades children by small-group 2005). while they use it.of the skill are considered essential— things this story was about?” Students who encourages it on the part of students knowledge of what the strategy is. Ogle. strug. include elements that help students The last of the elements suggested by tent in such disciplines as history and sci. Thus. then the strategies become purposeful good strategy instructors: gies naturally need to be able to take and integral reading activities. also has an excellent diagnostic tool to apply it. practice with the learning strategies in the context of n Sell the strategy by telling why it strategy. when they connect comprehension strategy applied. another skill that most highly effective to meshing strategy and content area They need to see it in action and. Polincsar. the teacher and help in correcting use n Generalize the strategy by telling of the strategy if there is a problem. the metacognitive skill of through trouble spots and constructing will know what learning strategies have summarizing might be addressed with meaning from the text” (Vacca & Vacca. a learned strategy from the abstract to n I ntroduce the strategy by modeling the concrete. To use this technique. who do not develop their own strate- texts. ful—opportunities to practice the strated an inability to use strategies—or teachers should build in opportuni- skills. They mentally—and. ing helps with this. a student can access as needed. Finally. The reason to apply the “thinking-out-loud” a math class can be pointed to by a sci- teacher might then read the comments approach to help students use learning ence teacher as one that would be help- aloud and ask. with the teach. often subconsciously—select new element should be presented at a different tasks. The first is that only one better. The teacher: ful for a specific science task. 1987). as they advanced through the grades. As students enter fifth grade. the teacher’s modeling of the skill or information collected to begin addressing tively taught in the context of content. a strategy taught in er writing down student comments. pinpoint the type of both classwide discusses some related findings of the apply the skills—with teacher feedback and individualized instruction needed. instruction. another element to modeling by sug. how would be taught different ways to sum. Students who have demon. In addition. 2002). This helps students why schoolwide implementation of Second. learn how to appropriately generalize Kiewra—opportunities for practice— ence. followed by structured oppor. www. the goal of strategy instruc- during pullout classes or special tion should not be rote memorization sessions focusing on study skills Teacher modeling is an especially of a particular approach but instead the instruction. Strengths and weaknesses of it (Jones. Perkins-Gough (2002) tunities for students to practice and dents. Protheroe (2003) adds from among a variety of strategies. to generalize a strategy they have used ties for students to generalize use of a successfully to another task—need strategy to a new type of task. the past—although in regard to a very be unlikely to learn either the strategy teachers talk through use of the strategy different type of task. the instruction was provided only by providing practice opportunities. and help to make the strategy a potentially teacher support than they would if n Help students perfect the strategy useful habit. Although teacher model- When students are helped to develop it and describing it. In time. It should begin with diately apparent. inappropriate use of strategies by some stu- area instruction. accompanied by feedback from learning about content. instruction. This is However. Thus. “What were the two big strategies. all fifth-grade teachers For example. The teacher can use the First. a mind actively responds to thinking for example. and important component of strategy development of a repertoire of tools n Have more—and more meaning. less effective learners may fix- egy should be presented in the context gesting that teachers consistently “think ate on the skill learned most recently of familiar content. individual students in the area of meta- Effective instruction must address all Third. Rand Reading Study Group. This is a reason or the content. should be age. specifically: provided to reinforce appropriate and use effective learners’ techniques as use of the strategy and correction or an example for those with weaknesses in Teachers foster comprehension development reteaching if the strategy is incorrectly the area. see it applied to a few slightly again. strategy. should be explicit.

VA: Educational .. Their e-mail addresses are nprotheroe@ers. D. effective use of learning strategies can enhance a stu- dent’s ability to achieve academically. G. B. B. Vh^beaZWZa^Z[Ål]Zcndj^che^gZeZdeaZidaZVgc!ndj^che^gZ Jones. J. P Ò IEC.. Deshler and J.EKJJ>. D.^hX]aZgHX]dda References lVhXgZViZYbdgZi]Vc(*nZVghV\d#Djg^YZVh!VeegdVX]VcY Clarke.org . Alexandria. In addition. ERS focus on: Learning egd\gVbh![djcYcdl]ZgZZahZ^ci]ZcVi^dc!VgZVaa[djcYZYdc strategies.. they can work with their teachers to develop a schoolwide approach that provides ongoing and explicit instruction in the use of key strategies. especially for struggling students.H. D.+-#*-. Schumaker..IF Research Service.9J$ Service. Perkins-Gough.org and sclarke@ers. E.. How K^h^idjglZWh^iZidaZVgcbdgZVWdji]dldjgeVgicZgh]^el^i] classroom teachers can help students C6:HEXVcWZcZÒindj# learn and teach them how to learn. ERS focus on: Helping students develop the skills of highly effective learners. First. The research summarized here iden- tifies three important links between learning strategies and academic achievement. Principals can help ensure that stu- dents receive the necessary instruction by educating teachers about the impor- tance of learning strategies. (2002. Educational Leadership. org. d[8daaZ\ZhVcYHX]ddah&-++Hdji]ZgcAVcZ!9ZXVijg!<Zdg\^V(%%((")%. Ogle. 71-80.<<.. Second. (2006).>.7D. Finally. S. Kiewra. Arlington. In D. F. Alexandria. while some students indepen- dently understand and apply a wide repertoire of learning strategies. Theory into Practice. D. A.M>.+Ò<_iY^b[hIY^eeb$delW$[Zk%D7. in cooperation with Ñ:YjXVi^dcVaHeZX^Va^hi Ñ6hhdX^ViZd[6gih North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. these strategies can effectively be taught as part of content- area instruction.!IZaZe]dcZcjbWZg/)%)"+. Teaching adolescents idVlVgYVhhdX^ViZÉh!WVX]ZadgÉh!bVhiZgÉh!ZYjXVi^dcVaheZX^Va^hi!VcYYdXidgVaYZ\gZZh# with disabilities: Accessing the general education curriculum (pp. D.DJIJE97KI. VA: Association Ñ9dXidgd[HeZZX]" ÑBVhiZgd[HX^ZcXZ for Supervision and Curriculum  AVc\jV\ZEVi]dad\n Ñ7VX]Zadgd[HX^ZcXZ Development. K. S. November). CdkVHdji]ZVhiZgcJc^kZgh^inVYb^ihhijYZcihd[VcngVXZ!Xdadg!hZmjVadg^ZciVi^dc!VcYcVi^dcVadgZi]c^X Teaching adolescents to be strategic dg^\^c#nCdkVHdji]ZVhiZgcJc^kZgh^in^hVXXgZY^iZYWni]Z8dbb^hh^dcdc8daaZ\Zhd[i]ZHdji]Zgc6hhdX^Vi^dc learners. (2008). B. 36 Principal n November/December 2008 www. I]ViÉhl]nCdkVHdji]ZVhiZgcJc^kZgh^inÉh. i]ZbidX]Vc\Zi]ZldgaY#6gZndjgZVYnidXVjhZVcZ[[ZXi4 & Carr. VA: Educational Research Service. (2002.). CA: Corwin Press.H. (2003). & Deshler. Spring).naesp.. RAND report on reading comprehension [special report]. Thousand Oaks. A. 121-156).. Protheroe. S. others do not. N." Nancy Protheroe is director of special  7FH?D9?F7BM?BB?DIF?H. (1987). Palincsar.")*%& Schumaker (Eds. 92. Strategic teaching and learning: Cognitive instruction in the Ñ9dXidgd[:YjXVi^dc ÑBVhiZgd[=jbVcHZgk^XZh content areas.#.H research projects and Suzanne Clarke is an issues analyst at Educational Research  IJK:.

(1993/1994. READY-TO-USE. NO TRAINING TRAIN NING REQUIRED! W e b R e sou r c e s An article on learning strategies and learning strategy instruction is included in this edition of the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities News Digest. M.ku-crl. www. describe how students learn. behavioral interventions for building positive behavior support.org/pubs/newsdig/nd25. In s t r u c t i Strategies Wang.org Principal n November/December 2008 37 . 74-79.pdf For Every Teacher! 800-585-5258 • Fax: 800-838-8186 • MentoringMinds. to teaching effective learning strategies. R. Boston: Pearson. The flip chart provides pegword method. December/January). Haertel. L. pdf The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (KU-CRL) has been instrumental in research and development of learning strategies instruction and is the developer of the Strategic Instruction Model. strategies that help differentiate learning. J. & Walberg.naesp. (2005). publications. and presentations prepared by KU-CRL researchers. J.. and letter strategies.ldonline.com www. This flip chart assists teachers in providing sound Approach..” provides a step-by-step guide instructional practices that meet the needs of all learners. Content area reading: Literacy and learning across the curriculum. D.com/pdfdocs/ A Must dirinstr. learning styles that The article by Jim Wright. & Vacca.org Authors Mastropieri and Scruggs discuss how mnemonic strategies can be used to enhance memory and then The Master Instructional Strategies Flip ChartTM is an easy-to-use describe three specific mnemonic resource that offers hundreds of instructional strategies from the techniques—the keyword method.jimwrightonline. www. G. T. C. At the center’s Web site.. o n a l MentoringMinds. A.org/article/5912 accommodations that provide all students access to the curriculum. instructional strategies that reflect “Introducing Academic Strategies research findings. the major instructional schools of thought. www.nichcy.com Vacca. www. and Bloom’s Taxonomy to promote critical to Students: A Direct-Instruction thinking. H. educators can find a brief discussion of the Learning Strategies Curriculum and a list of articles. Synthesis of research: What helps students learn? Educational Leadership.