Unformatted text preview: to use these strategies (Wood, Laurier, Willoughby, & Woloshyn, 1995).
Some students may intuitively develop an effective understanding of cognitive strategies 35
as they try to learn or problem solve. However, less effective students may fail to develop
successful strategies or fail to apply the strategies they know in an effective manner
(Hock & Deshler, 1993; Ritchie & Karge, 1996; Troia & Graham, 2002). Even more
successful learners could benefit from learning how to learn more efficiently. Knowing
how to teach cognitive strategies, therefore, is an important tool for teachers.
Do my students need strategy instruction? It is important to note that students
may be unsuccessful as learners and problem solvers for a number of reasons, and that
strategy instruction by itself will not address all these various reasons for non-success.
For example, successful problem solving not only requires knowledge of cognitive
strategies, but also a well-developed fund of world and domain knowledge, and
motivation to apply what is known (Snyder & Pressley, 1995). Students may be
unsuccessful because they lack strategies, because they lack basic skills and background
knowledge, because they lack self-confidence, or some combination of these and other
factors. You need to assess why students are not being successful, and then determine
what would be most helpful to your students. For example, if a student lacks necessary
prerequisite skills or knowledge, then the missing skills or knowledge will need to be
learned, and the relevant strategies may be those that help the students acquire the needed
Also, remember that students will come to you with different levels and types of
strategic knowledge. Allocate class time to talk to your students about what they already
know about how to learn and problem solve. For example, you could ask them for some
strategies for approaching an assignment you have just given them. These discussions
may help you determine your students’ needs for cognitive strategies. 36
What type of classroom environment supports strategic behavior? The point
has been made that unless an environment supports or requires students to think, it is
unlikely that students will see the need to be taught how to think (Beyer, 1998). Students
may have limited need to learn cognitive strategies if they can succeed without them.
Consequently, at least some classroom tasks must be challenging enough to require
strategic behavior. You may find it useful to review Vygotsky’s idea of the zone of
proximal development as a guiding concept here (Vygotsky, 1978). Also, teachers need
to create environments that value the successful use of strategies (Robertson, Priest, &
Fullwood, 2001). Students should be reinforced for their problem solutions, but they also
should be reinforced for using effective strategies to produce those solutions.
How do I identify strategies to teach? The first step is to determine where your
students may nee...
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- Spring '08
- Procedural knowledge, Mary Eddistone