Strategic Help Seeking: Implications for Learning and Teaching

Strategic Help Seeking: Implications for Learning and Teaching

Strategic Help Seeking: Implications for Learning and Teaching

Strategic Help Seeking: Implications for Learning and Teaching


There is considerable agreement that more successful learners are active, engaged, and self-regulating learners who understand and are motivated to apply learning strategies under appropriate conditions. One important strategic activity is seeking help when necessary, rather than giving up or engaging in fruitless persistence.

Research on strategic help seeking has matured significantly in recent years. This volume captures the current state of knowledge, research, and theory on help seeking as a strategic learning resource. It is international in scope, with contributors from the U. S., the Netherlands, Japan, and Israel.

As a whole, the book suggests that strategic (adaptive) help seeking is a critical school readiness skill that is facilitated by mastery-oriented classroom achievement and social goals, by teachers who invite questions rather than those who ask them, and by cultural characteristics that support student inquiry. A conceptual overview is followed by three chapters that examine help seeking from complementary theoretical perspectives and make important distinctions between forms of help seeking; two chapters that focus on how learners' achievement and social goals affect classroom help seeking; one chapter specifically devoted to cross-cultural comparisons of help seeking in Western cultures and in Japan; two chapters that examine the most frequent manifestation of help seeking--that of question asking; and one chapter that explores help-seeking in the information age (the library reference process, information technology, and computer-mediated communication). All chapters include attention to the implications of research and theory for help seeking in instructional settings.

Strategic Help Seeking is an excellent resource for educational researchers and practitioners including teachers, school administrators, instructional designers, reference librarians.


Following a seminal article by Sharon Nelson-Le Gall (1981), extensive research has examined the person and situation variables that affect learners' use of help seeking to accomplish academic tasks such as solving problems or completing writing assignments. Once identified with dependency, substantial evidence now indicates that seeking assistance from others is a valuable self-regulating, proactive learning strategy that can provide the foundation for autonomous achievement. Help seeking differs from other strategies because it is inherently social and thus susceptible to numerous cultural and interpersonal influences. In addition to whether or not help is needed, such culture-related traits as independence, respect for authority and competence, and norms of reciprocity and equity can determine whether or not learners will use others as learning resources. Asking a teacher or a friend for the answer to a math problem is, therefore, often more complex than, for example, deciding to organize one's notes or to rehearse a speech. Imagine the following self-examination by someone who is considering asking for help: Am I bothering them? Will they consider me incompetent? Is obtaining help really necessary? How can I pay them back? Maybe I'm not so smart after all. Others have asked questions, why not me? Issues raised by these and other questions have been the focus of considerable empirical research and theoretical development. For example, studies have examined the relationships between help seeking and self-esteem, ability, achievement goal orientation, and extent of need. And theoretical work has integrated help seeking within contemporary frameworks such as self-regulated learning and achievement goal theory.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.