Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Learning Effectiveness of a Strategic Learning Course

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Learning Effectiveness of a Strategic Learning Course

Article excerpt

Educators attempt to empower learners with self-awareness and strategies for areas of need, which consequently lead to learners' increased reliance on strategic approaches to the process of learning. Learning strategies include procedures for note-taking, reading textbooks or articles, organizing thoughts prior to writing, managing time, test-taking and many other skill areas. Learning strategies are not tricks or shortcuts; instead, strategic learning focuses on matching specific approaches, processes or strategies to the individual's learning needs. Most learning strategies also involve metacognitive processing, which involves intentionally thinking about one's learning strengths or needs and actively applying a strategy to regulate some aspect of one's learning. Educational researchers advocated that postsecondary learners should actively employ individualized strategies that meet the learner's personal learning preferences, strengths, weaknesses, and even disabilities (Davidson & Sternberg, 1998; Gamache, 2002; Hacker, 1998; Minskoff & Allsopp, 2003). Importantly, postsecondary students who approached learning with higher metacognitive awareness or self-regulation showed greater academic performance (Davidson & Sternberg, 1998; Highley, 1995; Ruban, McCoach, McGuire, & Reis, 2003; Schraw & Dennison, 1994; Sungar, 2007; White & Kitchen, 1991; Wolters, 1997). Furthermore, research has consistently provided evidence for the effectiveness of various learning strategies for postsecondary learners, especially in increasing self-regulation (Minskoff, Minskoff, & Allsopp, 2001; Peterson, Lavelle, & Guarino, 2006; Van Blerkom, D.L., Van Blerkom, M.L., & Bertsch, 2006).

The value of learning strategies in improving performance outcomes, such as grades or specific curriculum- based measures, is established by the previous research. Furthermore, existing research demonstrated the connection between learning strategies and metacognition. This study goes one step further to explore the challenges of creating effective interventions that increase students' metacognitive self-awareness and consequently lead to students' successful independent implementation of learning strategies in their academic careers. Specifically, this study investigates whether a learning strategies course could improve metacognitive regulation beyond gains made through typical maturation, with special interest in gains made by students with disabilities.

Previous Research

The review of the literature discussed below describes studies that focus both on the importance of learning strategies and the outcomes of various learning strategy interventions employed at the postsecondary level. Additionally, the literature that informs the current study deals with the impact that metacognition has on postsecondary learning. Further studies investigate the effectiveness of specific learning strategies or strategy programs for postsecondary students with learning disabilities.

Importance of Learning Strategies

Content knowledge requires mastery of facts and reasoning in a specific field or topic. The process of learning itself reaches beyond content knowledge to encompass the way a student learns with ever-increasing effectiveness. The improvement of learning, not just content knowledge, is an important outcome of postsecondary education. Various researchers connected the successful employment of strategic learning to aspects of metacognitive awareness and/or regulation (Braten & Stomso, 2005; Carnell, 2007; Dahlin, 1999; Garner, 1990; Hanley, 1995; Sungar, 2007; Wolters, 1997). For example, a student who was more aware of his or her learning strengths and weaknesses demonstrated greater readiness to employ strategies related to these strengths and weaknesses. Numerous universities such as Louisiana State, Stanford University, and Muskingum College have implemented programs or courses to teach learning strategies (Louisiana State, 2007; Muskingum, 2007; Stanford, 2007). …

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