Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Go Study! Strategies with Impact

As an administrator, teacher and parent I have caught myself preaching about the need to study.

Certainly my own children have heard me talk about the importance of preparation, being organized and work habits.

But I must confess that while preaching about the importance of studying and preparation, I probably could be a little more specific about what effective study strategies look like.

For this I turn to John Hattie - who has compiled  a list of meta cognitive study strategies that, the research shows, are most effective in preparing students.

Here are the TOP 5 study strategies (Visible Learning, John Hattie):

1. Organizing and Transforming
This is about being organized in your thinking and making it your own.   It includes such things as making an outline before you compose or mapping your thinking.

2. Self Consequences
Students need to get to a place where they prioritize what is important - preferably on their own. In my house it might look and sound like this: "I know you want play on your rainbow loom, but is there any business you need to take care of first?" This reminds me of the now famous Stanford University Marshmallow Experiment on delayed gratification where:
the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by test scores and educational attainment.....However, recent work calls into question whether self-control, as opposed to strategic reasoning, determines children's behavior
3. Self Evaluation
Creating opportunities for students to do structured self evaluations of their own work.  Peer reviews of work are also effective in this regard.

4. Self-Instruction
Verbalizing the steps and thinking involved in a task.  In other words - "talking it through"

5. Help Seeking
Find a study partner and talk it out it with each other.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Ask important important questions.  Receive quality feedback.

Here are the three LEAST effective study strategies (Visible Learning, Hattie):

1. Environmental Restructuring
 Selecting or arranging the physical setting to making learning easier.  This one surprises me given that I have given this bit of advice before.  I suppose this one needs to be taken in context.  If you only provide the space without the effective strategies (see above) results are limited.

2. Time Management
Scheduling daily study and homework time.  Again, one that I have recommended in the past!  Nonetheless, scheduling time without purpose is ineffective.  Reminds me of a few meetings I have attended or even facilitated!

3. Imagery
Creating or recalling vivid mental images to assist learning.

An observation
As I think about the "least effective" study strategies listed above, I can't help but wonder if they tend to prepare students for a certain type of demonstration of learning - i.e. memorizing for the test and/or recalling of information.

On the other hand, the top 5 strategies, from what I can see, lend themselves to preparing students for learning that is multifaceted - from recalling of information to project based, inquiry driven learning.

As usual, I'm still figuring it out....

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