1. Task Analysis: Once the lesson objectives are determined, the instructor might ask, "What set of steps should students go through to master this skill or knowledge?" Set down steps of whatever it is the students need to learn, keeping in mind the different cognitive skills required to do the task so that significantly different phases are separated. Begin by asking the question, "How could the process be broken into parts? "
You may turn the important steps into a learning strategy, or choose an existing strategy that conveys clearly how to learn your subject matter. For example, SQ3R, Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review is a reading strategy that builds in study and test preparation. See more examples below under III.2.
2. Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: What is required in each step? Trying to be aware of the "covert" processes that underlie (or are presumed to be mastered in order to do) the overt processes is important in analyzing possible causes of student error. This information is crucial for scaffolding later during the practice step so that fundamental requirements are presented first, followed by the tasks that presume mastery of such skills.
An example would be if students were asked to write up a lab report, but they did not know first how to plot their observations using a matrix diagram in order to organize the data for analysis, a prerequisite for recording conclusions.
A second example would be the case of a student who processed language less effectively than visual data, who was asked to lead a discussion group on one of the major concepts given in lecture, but did not have the crucial vocabulary in a visual form to study. What different options exist for the student to master the terms given in lecture?
a. Pretest: Find out where students are (pretest, initial CATs, short answer to a question).
b. Teach by "Making Thinking Visible": Describe and model strategy by sharing how you as a teacher (playing student) would think about it, giving reasons for its use.
c. Use Multi-sensory Methods: Illustrate the learning process you've described in writing by using visual models whenever possible to ensure access to all learning styles.
d. Guided Practice and Scaffolding: Ask students to practice with easier material to be sure they understand how to use the strategy. Provide them with feedback.
e. Practice and Application: Ask students to follow up using content that increasingly reaches the targeted level of mastery the instructor determines as an outcome for the course. You may ask them to apply the principles learned to a new set of data, problems or reading assignments.
f. Evaluation: Evaluate by giving a posttest or by using a teacher-designed checklist with a set of criteria or guidelines. Give students feedback. Students may also evaluate themselves using one of the above methods to increase metacognition.
g. Transfer to Skills to New Settings: Set students up for transfer of knowledge and skills to other situations by noting how to do the strategy correctly and memorizing steps, if relevant (i.e. create a mnemonic device that names the steps the teachers have invented). They might make cue cards to keep in their notebooks as reminders. Try to teach students to monitor their own practice of strategies while doing homework assignments to encourage self-regulation and metacognition. Ask them to discuss when they might use the strategy in the future, for example, with other course material, in other classes, on a job or in their personal lives.
Another model devised by Norman Stahl (ED 334571) involves four steps:
1. Modeling: Instructor demonstrates strategy using his or her content material; instructor thinks aloud to show students the cognitive processes involved in doing this strategy, self-reports, gives rationale for doing the strategy.
2. Practicing: Students practice strategy throughout the term.
3. Evaluating: Instructor or peer evaluates student's production of material using strategy (i.e. students notes taken when using a notetaking strategy) weekly and gives feedback using a checklist with ordered, objective scaled criteria or criterion behaviors.
4. Reinforcing: Student's efforts are reinforced through positive review sessions; the use of a point system is a possibility.
1. Design a Strategy
Skills: List the major skills or operations that students need to master in one of your classes.
Choose: Which of these could be turned into a strategy that shows students how to approach the subject matter, and how to learn?
Task Analysis: Next, begin analyzing the steps in the process. Try to pay attention to both overt and covert processes.
2. Use a Strategy
Since so many of the same skills are required across academic disciplines, it may be easier to demonstrate strategies or study skills that are already formulated to the class during your lecture.
Reading Area: Vocabulary sheets, paraphrasing, summarizing, visualizing, self-questioning, SQ5R, DRTA (directed reading and thinking activity), ReQuest, close reading, and metacognitive reading behaviors checklist
Writing Area: Step-by-step procedure, like TOWER or teacher-designed writing guidelines involving steps similar to brainstorming, planning, organizing, writing first draft, editing or revising, and final draft, guidelines or criteria by which students may learn to edit their own work, i.e. essay checklist, learning logs, journals, Cornell 6-R notetaking method, summarizing, research guidelines or steps, annotations, responses to reading, reading-writing think sheets, specific text-style essay instructions.
Math Area: Study guides, error
analysis sheets, step-by-step word problem strategy, self-checking guidelines,
visualization and drawing, kinesthetic modeling and practicing, mnemonic devices
for formulae, essentials notecards, specific problem-solving heuristics.
Adapted from the following sources:
Deshler, et al. Learning Strategies Curriculum. Lawrence: The University of Kansas Institute for Research in Learning Disabilities, 1984-2000.
Plato. "The Divided Line" in the dialogue, "The Republic", Book VI, sec. 508-511.
Scardamalia, et al., and A. Schoenfeld, in Collins, Allan, John Seeley Brown, and Ann Holum. "Cognitive Apprenticeship: Making Thinking Visible. American Federation of Teacher's American Educator. Winter 1991: 7-18.
Stahl, Norman. Eric Document No. 334571. Eric Clearinghouse. <http://www.accesseric.org:81/>
Tierney, Robert and John E. Readence. Reading Strategies and Practices. 5th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.