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Unformatted text preview: 71 Teaching Students How to Learn Kiewra Kenneth A. Kiewra is professor of educational psy- chology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Y OU WOULD THINK THAT COLLEGE STUDENTS are expert learners; after all, they have completed 12 years of school and have chosen to extend their academic path. In reality, many college students are deficient learners who employ weak strategies in the classroom and while studying (Gubbels, 1999; Kiewra, 1991; Pressley, Yokoi, Van Meter, Van Etten, & Freebern, 1997). I teach a college-level study skills course and have seen students learning deficits firsthand. The first day of class, for example, I assess students learning potential by presenting a lecture, provid- ing an opportunity for students to review their lec- ture notes, and then testing them. What I observe are students recording sketchy notes, creating out- lines, and studying noted ideas by rehearsing them one idea at a time. Employing these ineffective strategies (Craik & Watkins, 1973; Kiewra, DuBois, Christian, McShane, Meyerhoffer, & Roskelley, 1991) naturally leads to poor test performance. Why are many students ineffective learners? It could be that students are rarely instructed how to learn. Strategy instruction is rarely incorporated into the curriculum (Applebee, 1984; Durkin, 1979). Durkin, for example, viewed more than 7,000 minutes of reading and social studies instruc- tion and did not observe a single incidence of strat- egy instruction. Educators, it seems, teach content such as math and science, but fail to teach students how to learn such content. Reflect on your own education: Did anyone teach you how to record notes and study for exams? Probably not. Yet stu- dents are expected to know how to learn. Fortunately, students can learn how to learn when taught strategies in the context of study skills courses. Study skills, or Learning to Learn (Gall, Gall, Jacobsen, & Bullock, 1990; Simpson, Hynd, Nist, & Burrell, 1997) courses, like the one I teach, often include units on motivation and time man- agement, note taking, text learning, studying, and test taking (Kiewra & DuBois, 1998). Completing a study skills course, though, is not the only way to learn how to learn. Ideally, instructors can teach stu- dents how to learn by embedding strategy instruction within their subject matter courses (Pressley & Woloshyn, 1995). While teaching psychology or history, for example, instructors can also teach stu- dents strategies for text learning, lecture note tak- ing, or studying for exams. Good strategy instructors must know two things: (a) which strategies are effective and (b) how to teach them by embedding strategy instruc- tion into content teaching. The latterhow to em- bed strategy instructionis not too complicated....
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- Fall '06