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date: 20 August 2019

Learning Strategies Instruction

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

As postulated by the Quality Teaching Model, learning strategies instruction contributes to elevating the intellectual quality of learning, creating quality learning environments, and empowering students to understand the significance of learning. A student’s ability to learn is not merely a result of their intellectual potential or motivation, nor a permanent attribute. It is widely known from work done in the field of neuroscience that intellectual potential is malleable, and that achieving good academic performance is no longer limited to a selective minority. While appreciating that the road to achieving good academic performance might be more difficult for some students than for others, teachers need to help all students become more effective learners by assisting them to acquire, develop, and apply learning strategies that would make it easier for all to experience meaningful learning. The application of learning strategies stands opposed to direct instruction that focuses on the transmission and reception of learning content, and includes a variety of cognitive tools that students apply to enhance their understanding, improve their comprehension, and increase their performance on learning tasks.

With inclusive and special education in mind, the most effective learning strategies for the acquisition of information combine the limited use of a behavioristic, teacher-directed transmission approach to teaching with a powerful constructivist approach where students take control of their own learning and construct meaning. Learning strategies instruction involves the teaching of overt and covert tools to learners to enable them to understand and learn new material or skills, and not merely memorize information. Overt tools include visible tools for underlining important information, taking notes, and using charts, maps, tables, or graphic organizers to synthesize information. Covert tools rely on tools to mentally process information, such as interpreting and synthesizing information, and identifying relationships between different kinds of information. Learning strategies instruction requires teachers to explain learning tools and their purpose to students, model the application of tools to students, present opportunities to apply the tools in different tasks, and allow students to become self-directed in choosing suitable tools independently that would enable them to execute specific learning tasks successfully.