The way your students approach learning has a large impact on how well they do at school. Thankfully, **research shows that teaching your students certain learning strategies helps them to achieve higher results**. You can:

Explicitly teach them to your students

Have students use them within your regular lessons

Encourage your students to use them when studying at home

## What are Learning Strategies?

*Learning strategies* refer to the different things students can do to enhance their learning. There are an endless number of learning strategies. and some are subject or even task-specific. For example, using:

*PEEL paragraphs* within the body of a *essay*

*Estimates* to check the *reasonableness* of your answer to a *mathematical problem*

However, some broader learning strategies cut across subjects – and some of these have more impact than others.

## 7 Proven Learning Strategies to Teach Your Students

Here are seven learning strategies that research shows have a high impact on student learning.

Integrating with Prior Knowledge (elaboration)

Outlining (organising)

Retrieval Practice (retrieval)

Spaced Practice

Seeking Feedback

Monitoring & Help-Seeking

Transforming (re-organising)

## Strategy 1: Integrating with Prior Knowledge

Students’ minds are not blank slates. Rather, they contain students’ existing understanding of the world around them. Research shows that students *encode *information better when they connect it to their existing understandings.

So, the first of the seven learning strategies is ** integrating with prior knowledge**, which researchers sometimes call

*elaboration*. Research shows that students

*encode*information better when they connect it to their existing understandings.

Then, while they engage with new information, teach your students to ask themselves questions such as, *how has what I learned:*

You need to teach students to ask themselves *what they think they know *about the topic at hand – before they begin to engage with it.

*Confirmed what I already knew?*

*Added to my existing understanding*?

*Challenged and changed what I thought I knew?*

*Distinct from, yet similar to related things?*

## Learning Strategy 2: Outlining

Outlining involves identifying ** key points** and arranging them in an

**. Students can do this in a range of ways, including:**

*organised way*Visually

With words

Using a combination of visuals and words

Note that, to be classed as *outlining*, the above strategies must focus on* *extracting *key points *and leaving out supporting details. These key points can:

Be from a single lesson

Link key ideas from several lessons

Connect key ideas to the students’ personal experiences

Many of the above strategies have their own set of research behind them (e.g. concept mapping). Yet, research^{2} shows the broad strategy of outlining has an effect size of *d *= 0.85.

## Strategy 3: Retrieval Practice

While *integrating with prior knowledge* and *outlining* help get information into the minds of students, ** retrieval practice** involves students in consciously retrieving information from memory.

Somewhat paradoxically, research^{3} has revealed that *retrieving *information from memory helps students to **cement new learning into their long-term memory**.

Originally known as the *testing effect*, retrieving information from memory has a large impact on learning^{4} (*g* = 0.93). Furthemore, it is substantially better^{5} than *re-studying*, *reviewing notes *and *rereading texts.*

Retrieval practice includes retrieving both:

Conceptual understandings

Procedures

The impact of retrieval practice is enhanced when students engage in:

Self-questioning (e.g. why isn’t 9 a prime number?)

Self-verbalising (e.g. talking yourself through the steps in a procedure)

Interestingly, the *testing effect *is distinct from the impact that *feedback *has on students’ learning. Put another way, students’ results improve from retrieval practice even when you don’t give them feedback.

## Learning Strategy 4: Spaced Practice

While *retrieval practice* is powerful in its own right, it is even more potent when practice sessions are **spaced out over time**. Spaced practice involves practising the **same thing**:

Several times

Spaced out over time

This is quite different from practising *one thing *on Monday and a *different thing* on Tuesday (or week-by-week). Researchers refer to practising one thing intensely before moving onto the next thing as *massed practice. *And, research has revealed that, on average, students who space out their practice score 15% higher than students who complete massed practice.

## Strategy 5: Seeking Feedback

You should always find opportunities to give your students feedback. Giving feedback is both an evidence-based and a high-impact teaching strategy.

But, ** feedback as a learning strategy** has

*a different twist*. It is about your students seeking feedback before receiving it. Research shows that students achieve

**42 percentile points better**when they regularly

**.**

*seek feedback*Students can seek feedback from:

People (e.g. you, more able peers, older siblings, parents, tutors)

Material (e.g. textbook exercise answers, online automated scoring services)

When receiving feedback from *material*, it is important that students go the extra mile and find out ** why** their answers were right or wrong.

## Learning Strategy 6: Monitoring & Help Seeking

Monitoring, or ** self-monitoring** involves actively being aware of when you understand something and when things no longer make sense. Students can monitor their understanding while:

Listening to you

Reading texts

Working on tasks

This simple strategy has a large impact on its own, and is an essential first step for students to know when to ask for help.

After teaching your students to *self-monitor*, you need to stress the importance of asking for help. The act of asking for help needs little explanation, but your students must understand how much it impacts their learning.

## Strategy 7: Transforming

Transforming involves *re-outlining *or *reorganising *material. For example, you may have taught your students how to multiply common fractions. In doing so, you may have presented a series of steps.

Your students may have created an *outline* of these steps and *practised *following them. ** Transforming **involves your students in reorganising what they have understood a different way.

For example, they could create a Venn diagram *comparing *multiplication of common fractions with addition of common fractions.

Transforming learned material helps encode learning.

## How to Teach These Learning Strategies

So far, you have read about what types of learning strategies have a high impact on students’ results. You can help your students by teaching them how to use each of these strategies.

But the way you teach them matters too! Research shows that you should:

**Explain** *how, when* and *why* to use each learning strategy (general meta-cognitive knowledge)

** Demonstrate **how to use each strateg

**y**

**Scaffold **students use of each learning strategy

Offer your students **feedback** on their attempts (personal meta-cognitive knowledge)

## Footnotes

### Strategy 3: Transforming

** Transforming** is the third of our seven learning strategies. As with

*outlining,*involves students in organising information. But when

**transforming***transforming*information, students

*rearrange*it in ways that highlight different

*interrelationships*.

These interrelationships can include ** comparisons, sequences, hierarchies, patterns, trends and cause-effect**.

You can transform information in written form using words such as, *but, and, next, because,* and *so*. However, transformations usually involve some form of visual structure. For example:

##### Example of Using Tables to Transform Information

##### Example of Using Concept Maps to Transform Information

### Learning Strategy 4: Rehearsal & Practice

Students need to move information from their short-term, *working memories*, to their *long-term memories*. This includes information about things (declarative knowledge) and information about procedures (procedural knowledge).

To do this, they should make use of ** rehearsal** and

*practice**.*And they form the fourth of our seven learning strategies.

** Rehearsal** can involve

*flashcards, mnemonics, chunking,*

*going over past notes, memorising lines for a play**,*and

**.**

*rereading material*** Practice** involves

*retrieving*previously learned information and applying it to the question/task at hand.

**works best when students:**

*Retrieval practice*One recent meta-analysis found that ** retrieval practice had an effect size of 0.55 larger than rehearsal**.

### Strategy 5: Problem-Solving

Teaching your students ** problem-solving skills** has a high impact on their results. So, problem-solving makes it in this list of seven potent learning strategies.

This starts with teaching your students the general *problem-solving process*. There are several different versions of this process, but they are all based on *Polya’s 4 steps*.

Then, there are specific *strategies* that you can use within this process. For example, in mathematics, students could use a combination of these strategies:

### Learning Strategy 6: Help-Seeking

This one needs little explanation. Students do better when they seek out help from other people, including:

Yet, despite being easy to understand, **many students do not do it**. Teaching them the

*importance*of seeking help leads to more help-seeking and better results.

### Strategy 7: Asking for Feedback

You should always find opportunities to give your students feedback. Giving feedback is both an evidence-based and a high-impact teaching strategy.

But, ** feedback as a learning strategy** has

*a different twist*. It is about your students asking for feedback before receiving it. Research shows that students achieve 42 percentile points better when they regularly

**.**

*ask for feedback*Furthermore, the mindset of students ** seeking feedback** matters too. Students who believe that their performance is the result of their own actions or inactions are more likely to use feedback constructively.

## How to Teach These Learning Strategies

So far, you have read about what types of learning strategies have a high impact on students’ results. You can help your students by teaching them how to use each of these strategies.

But the way you teach them matters too! Research shows that you should:

**Explain***how, when*and*why*to use each learning strategy (general meta-cognitive knowledge)**Demonstrate**how to use each strategy**Scaffold**students use of each learning strategy- Offer your students
**feedback**on their attempts (personal meta-cognitive knowledge)

You can teach your students these core strategies early in the year – e.g. the last teaching period of each day for 5-10 days. And, then show them how to adapt them within different subjects, as part of your teaching throughout the year.

### Supporting Research & Footnotes

Download a list of the research and footnotes that support this article.

Thanks Shaun. With what age groups do you recommend using these strategies? I am in a Prep – year 12 school and would like to share with staff.

Kind regards

Sheona Carter

Hi Sheona

Before reading the research, I would have said Year 4 and up. But the research showed the strategies were effective from Years 1-12. And, students use of strategies (after being taught) was higher in lower primary/elementary.

I’m not an early childhood teacher, but I imagine that in the early years some tailoring would be necessary. For example:

activating prior knowledge(maybe with a more child friendly language) as something to do before you readoutliningusing aclass mind mapto progressively summarise what you have been learning about (e.g. theme, science, humanities)reorganiseinformation students have learnedRehearsingletter-sound relationships, and then asking someone to helptest themfeedbackon their draft writing, or even on their ideas for writingBut, for many of the strategies in their more formal/traditional form, I would still say Year 4 and up.

Cheers

Shaun

Hi Shaun,

Love reading all of your posts. Thanks for providing such powerful and well researched information. I look forward to many more updates from you.

Regards,

Seamus Farrell

My pleasure. I am glad you find it useful.