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Research on the Development of the Learning Strategies


Study One

Subjects and Setting

During a two-year span, students who received educational services through a private agency were interviewed to ascertain the various types of classroom assignments the students were expected to complete. A total of 100 students were interviewed and the assignments were assigned to categories. The students were from a range of school situations involving both public and private schools in a medium-sized city and its surrounding counties.

Results

The following list of classroom-related tasks was compiled:

1. Textbook reading.
2. Notetaking.
3. Oral reports.
4. Essay writing.
5. Written assignments.
6. Memorization.
7. Development of programs to control behavior.
8. Outlining.
9. Reading.
10. Test-taking (short answer, multiple choice, true-false, fill-in. matching, essay).
11. Spelling.
12. Proofing.
13. Math problems.

Study Two

Subjects and Setting

A total of 71 students served as the sample population for this study on the use of an organized strategy for memorization. The students were from a wide variety of schools representing both public and private schools. IQ tests indicated that abilities ranged from low average to high average. The age range was from 12 to 17 years.

Method

The students were given five minutes to memorize a list of 30 words. After the five minutes elapsed, the students were requested to write down all the words they could remember. They were then instructed to count the number of words and put the number at the top of the page.

The students were then taught a simple organization strategy that utilized categorization. Words such as house, dog and cat were used to provide a framework to attach other words such as yard, bone and string so that the student could use association to increase memorization and retrieval. There were five categories of words and four word pairs that were used to organize thirty words to be learned. The students were not given any additional time to study the words and a time delay of five minutes was imposed by discussing hobbies. The students were then asked to write down all the words they could remember.

Results

The number of words retrieved on the initial try ranged from 2 to 30 words. The mean number of words was 13 prior to the strategy training. The mean number of words when using the organizational strategy increased to 24 and ranged from 17 to 30.

Subjects and Setting

The setting was a small classroom located in a multi-disciplinary agency in a medium-sized city. No affiliation or contact was made with any of the schools represented by students in the sample; thus, the setting was quite isolated from the variety of public and private schools attended by the sample students.

Students in the sample population were recommended to participate in learning strategy groups for a period of six weeks. The basic criteria for entry into a group was the identification of an attention problem by a psychologist in combination with underachievement as reflected by the student's school report card. All members of the sample were assigned to groups according to age and grade level. The groups were either middle school or high school populations with an overall age range from 12 years, 10 months to 17 years, 8 months. The IQ ranged from low average to high average. Group size was limited to 5 students per group. Any student who was receiving additional tutoring or services was excluded from the sample.

Method

The typical classroom tasks required of students from the first study served as a framework for the development of a collection of study strategies to improve classroom performance. A strategy was developed for each type of learning task which resulted in a total of 20 strategies that were taught to students under the title of "Independent Strategies for Efficient Study." For six weeks, the groups met once a week with the instructor. Each session ran for one and a half hours. The following schedule was followed for each group:

Session 1 - Association for Memory, Systematic Study System, Self-graphing of Grades, Notebook Organization.

Session 2 - Streamlined Notetaking, Notetaking from Written Material, Time Management.

Session 3 - Wheels for Reading, Pictorials, Diagrams, Charts for Organization.

Session 4 - Wheels for Writing, Spelling, Proofing.

Session 5 - Wheels for Literature, Self-monitoring of Behavior, Self-talk, Imagery, Graphing of Behaviors, Test-taking.

Session 6 - Review of the 20 strategies.

The 20 strategies and the generalization exercise are detailed in this book so the descriptions will not be repeated here. Refer to the text for detailed descriptions of the strategies and the generalization procedure. Any absences were made up during individual sessions so that all the students completed the training in all 20 strategies.

Dependent Measures

Two measures were selected to measure student progress. First, student grades before and after strategy training were used to assess academic progress as well as the generalization of the strategies. Though the measure of grades is not a pure measure free of contaminating factors, grades do serve as the most commonly accepted measure of a student's academic progress. Therefore, the grades were selected as the primary dependent measure to assess academic progress in the classroom.

Only content area courses such as history, science, psychology, sociology and English were included in the study. Math grades, physical education grades, and band/chorus grades were excluded. A second dependent measure consisted of a phone contact to each student's parents to assess the student's improvement and use of the strategies. Parental responses were categorized as positive or negative. Positive statements were limited to statements that indicated improvement in schoolwork. Negative statements included all other responses such as the parent not being sure or not knowing if improvement had taken place. The responses were judged by two independent raters using the "improvement" or "other" criteria for judgement.

Results

A comparison was made using the direct-difference method to assess the difference between the grades received prior to strategy training and after strategy training. The comparison revealed a highly significant increase in student grades after six weeks of strategy training (N=67, t=-6.54, p<.001). The direct-difference method was chosen to serve as the statistical procedure for a before-after design to accommodate correlated samples.

Descriptive data was tabulated in addition to the statistical analysis. Changes in grades are listed below:

Increase of 1 letter grade 21
Increase of 2 letter grades 16
Increase of 3 letter grades 5
Remained the same 19
Decreased 1 letter grade 6

Numerical measures of student averages based on a five point (A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, F=1) scale were also computed to assess individual students gains:

  Pre Post
1. 2.50 3.50
2. 1.00 3.00
3. 4.00 4.00
4. 2.75 3.25
5. 2.00 3.25
6. 2.00 3.25
7. 2.25 3.00
8. 2.52 2.50
9. 2.00 2.50
10. 1.75 2.75
11. 1.67 2.67
12. 1.67 3.00
13. 1.80 3.00
14. 2.00 2.75
15. 2.50 4.00
16. 2.30 3.00
17. 1.25 3.25
18. 1.00 2.00
19. 3.00 3.00
20. 3.00 4.00
     
Mean 2.10 3.08

The cumulative scores resulted in a mean increase of .98.

Parent contacts resulted in 26 comments being deemed positive and 4 comments being designated as negative or not sure. Inter-rater reliability was 100%.

Discussion

The results indicated that grades improved significantly after six weeks of instruction using the strategies outlined in this book. The effectiveness of this strategy training package is supported by the results of this study; however, the data also reflects the generalization of the use of the strategies which is as important as the effectiveness of the strategy training. Further research needs to address the impact of the individual strategies on specific academic areas but the results of this study indicate that the learning strategy course described in this book has been shown empirically to result in significant improvement in academic progress as measured by classroom grades.

Research on Core Strategy Training

Method

Subjects and Setting

Three high school students receiving services as students with learning disabilities in a large public school system were the participants in the study. All three students were identified through the use of ability/achievement discrepancies as well as specific processing weaknesses. The ability range was from low average to average. The students were in the Resource Program as well as mainstream classes but were receiving no services directly related to their mainstream classes. The students were nominated by their teacher as students who were struggling with academic achievement and who needed help with their performance in the regular classroom.

Research Design

A multiple baseline design was used to measure the changes in performance through the use of classroom grades. Mainstream classroom teachers were not told about the intervention but were asked to provide two grades per week that resulted from quizzes or tests. Homework grades were not included. The teachers simply wrote down the student's grades on a form that was collected by the school secretary at the end of each week. The grades were used as the dependent variable.

Procedures

Grades were collected for all students at the beginning of the second semester. The grades were collected over February, March, April and May with some interruptions because of Easter vacation, a snow day and teacher workdays. The teachers were requested to participate in the study by the special education teacher and were asked to hand in the grades to a spot on the secretary's desk at the end of each week. There was no contact between the teachers and the strategy trainer. The strategy training took place over weekends and not on school grounds so teachers would not know when the training occurred. At different intervals, the subjects were trained to use selected strategies from the course called "Independent Strategies for Efficient Study".

Results

The graphs representing student performance before and after strategy training intervention depict significant improvement in academic performance after the organizational strategy training intervention.

Student 1
Student 2
Student 3
Student 3

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