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American Educator, v37 n3 p12-21 Fall 2013

Before the "big test" did you use the following study strategies: highlighting, rereading, and cramming? As students many of us probably did, yet research shows that while these three strategies are commonly used, they have been ineffective in retaining information. Learning strategies have been discussed in almost every textbook on educational psychology, so many teachers likely have been introduced to at least some of them, but, given the demands of day-to-day teaching, teachers do not always have time to figure out which strategies are best to use. Dunlosky reports that in his years of research he has discovered learning strategies that have proved successful and should be part of the "Student Toolbox" to boost learning. This article presents ten learning strategies for students and then expands on their usage. They are: (1) Practice testing: self-testing or taking practice tests on to-be-learned material; (2) Distributed practice: implementing a schedule of practice that spreads out study activities over time; (3) Interleaved practice: implementing a schedule of practice that mixes different kinds of problems, or a schedule of study that mixes different kinds of material, within a single study session; (4) Elaborative interrogation: generating an explanation for why an explicitly stated fact or concept is true; (5) Self-explanation: explaining how new information is related to known information, or explaining steps taken during problem solving; (6) Rereading: restudying text material again after an initial reading; (7) Highlighting and underlining: marking potentially important portions of to-be-learned materials while reading.; (8) Summarization: writing summaries (of various lengths) of to-be-learned texts; (9) Keyword mnemonic: using keywords and mental imagery to associate verbal materials; and (10) Imagery for text: attempting to form mental images of text materials while reading or listening. Using learning strategies can increase student understanding and achievement, but are only effective if students are motivated to use them correctly. Teaching students how to guide their learning of content using effective strategies will allow them to successfully learn throughout their lifetime.

Descriptors: Learning Strategies, Test Preparation, Time Management, Study Skills, Problem Solving, Mnemonics, Imagery, Instructional Effectiveness, Elementary School Students, Secondary School Students, College Students

American Federation of Teachers. 555 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4400; e-mail: amered[at]; Web site:

Autor: Dunlosky, John


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