Learning How to Learn

This was the concept that planted the seed for this blog. I asked myself what does this mean?  I am sure it means something different to everyone.

I have participated in discussion forums and listened to teachers ask Have you ever wondered why some students are much quicker to understand and apply concepts from class with success, while others seem to struggle?

If you have found yourself wondering this, why not teach students the skill "how to learn"? 

According to Terry Doyle, a professor and educational consultant at Ferris State University, learning how to learn   includes all of the following areas:
1. Ways of organizing information
2. Ways of comprehending information/ finding what's important
3. Ways of studying information
4. Ways of recalling information
5. Ways of finding information
6. Ways of thinking about information

When designing lessons, a simple strategy for a teacher could be to transform these areas into a set of questions to ask. Questions like: how are my students organizing information? What strategy have I included to help them do this more effectively?

A paper published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest evaluated ten techniques for improving learning, ranging from mnemonics to highlighting and came to some surprising conclusions about their effectiveness. A summary of each of these techniques written by Simon Oxenham is available at bigthink.com Assessing the Evidence.

The techniques listed in the image could be added to lesson planning to help students learn better, but keep in mind that they are not all equally effective, and with each of those techniques comes a sub-set of skills that need to be taught.

An example of this is summarizing. To summarize effectively, even though it is ranked as having low effectiveness, students will need to know how to shorten, maintain original meaning, and paraphrase.

At the end of the day, teachers do their best to teach. We can help our students do their best to learn. 


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