What Is Strategy Instruction?
“Give a person a fish; eat for a day. Teach a person to fish; eat for a lifetime.” Strategy instruction involves teaching someone study skills, which are techniques students can use to learn or test more effectively. While content tutoring re-teaches the content in a specific class, strategy instruction teaches students how to learn the content (or be tested over that content) in any class. Some examples of study skills include:
- Memorizing facts
- Reading a textbook chapter efficiently
- Taking accurate notes
- Studying for specific types of exams (such as multiple choice or essay)
- Taking specific types of exams (such as multiple choice or essay)
- Time management skills and tools
- Organizing and writing a research paper
- Using technology to learn more effectively (such as SmartPen, software to create visual mindmaps, and speech-to-text software)
Who Can Benefit from Strategy Instruction?
Nearly every student could benefit from strategy instruction, particularly as they transition into college or through college. The brightest students on highly competitive campuses seek help in developing new study skills to maintain their success as their learning environments become more challenging. Dartmouth College, an Ivy League institution, offers a good example of this trend: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~acskills/about/asc_workshops.html
Unfortunately, about the only time students think about strategy instruction in when they want to boost their SAT or ACT scores. Students with LD, ADHD, Asperger’s and other learning disorders often have a particular need for strategy instruction. They may find that their intelligence and ability to listen in class are sufficient to succeed in high school, but as they get older, their grades begin to drop and their frustration levels begin to climb. What they lack – and what schools rarely have time to teach – are the study skills needed to learn effectively. CRG’s Postsecondary Disability Specialist, Dr. David Parker , specializes in providing strategy instruction to high school and college students so they can close the gap between their high intelligence and their grades. Some of the students who work with Dr. Parker already make good grades, but require countless hours to do so. Strategy instruction helps them learn how to “work smarter, not harder.”
What Does Strategy Instruction Entail?
Dr. Parker typically meets with a student every two weeks for 6 or 7 sessions. In some cases, meeting weekly is a better way to address a student’s urgent academic needs. Students bring their current course materials/assignments in and Dr. Parker uses these to help them learn more effective ways to do the work. At CRG, strategy instruction typically includes these components:
- A one-hour intake appointment: Students (and their parents, if appropriate) share information with Dr. Parker about the student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, educational history, current academic situation, and educational goals. The student takes an online assessment of his/her current study skills during the Intake.
- Follow-up: During the next session, Dr. Parker reviews the student’s study skills assessment and reviews key information from the intake. He collaborates with the student (and parents) to identify the most important study skills and courses to address. Students are introduced to organization tools they can use to remember and practice the strategies that Dr. Parker demonstrates and helps them practice during sessions.
- Practice sessions: In most cases, Dr. Parker then works with a student for 5-6 sessions, teaching one or two study skills until the student has mastered these new approaches to learning. Students bring their actual course materials and assignments to these sessions. Dr. Parker helps students, using these “authentic” materials, apply a study skill to an actual assignment or study requirement.
- Progress Report: After 5-6 sessions, Dr. Parker has the student take the online study skills assessment again. He uses the “pre” and “post” scores to write a brief report, summarizing the strategies that have been taught, observations of how the student learns best, and growth in the student’s measured study skills. The report includes recommendations about next steps. Dr. Parker then meets with the student (and parents, if appropriate) to review the report. Together, this team discusses the student’s progress and any recommended next steps.
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