Even more successful learners could benefit from

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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 background knowledge. 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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