What are Learning Strategies?

                    Learning strategies seem to be "tricks" learners how to
                    help them remember things better or to do tasks more
                    efficiently.  Several researchers have studied what learning
                    strategies are and why they are effective in the learning
                    process.

                    Oxford (1990) takes us to a definition which breaks the
                    term learning strategies down to its roots--the word
                    strategy.  She informs us that this word comes from the
                    Greek word 'strategia' which means generalship or the art
                    of war.  Strategy meant the management of the troops,
                    ships, or aircraft in a war situation.  She points out a similar
                    word tactics which are tools to achieve the success of
                    strategies.  These two words, used interchangeably mean
                    planning, competition, conscious manipulation, and movement
                    toward a goal.    In a problem solving situation, it would
                    imply "using a plan, step or conscious action toward
                    achievement of an objective."  Oxford continues to expand on
                    this definition by stating that "learning strategies are specific
                    actions taken by the learner to make learning easier, faster, more
                    enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more
                    transferrable to new situations."

                    Weinstein and Mayer in Witrock (1986) have coined one definition
                    of learning strategies as "behaviors and thoughts that a
                    learner engages in during learning and that are intended
                    to influence the learner's encoding process."  They go on to
                    state various learning strategies that could be used with learners.

                    Nisbet and Shucksmith (1986) define learning strategies simply
                    as "the processes that underlie performance on thinking tasks."
                    They go on to explain that "strategies are more than simple
                    sequences or agglomerations of skills; they go beyond the 'strings'
                    or routines advocated in some study manuals.  They are almost
                    always purposeful and goal-oriented, but they are perhaps not
                    always carried out at a conscious or deliberate level.  They can
                    be lengthy or so rapid in execution that it is impossible to
                    recapture, recall, or even be aware that one has used a strategy."
                    They move toward a metacognitive approach to strategy use and
                    learning.  They believe that since not all learning strategies are
                    equal in terms of usability and ease of acquistion, there exists a
                    hierarchy of strategies which are related to metacognition , or
                    knowledge of one's own mental processes.

                    Masters, Mori, and Mori (1993) move toward a definition of
                    cognitive strategies rather than the term learning strategies.
                    They refer to a defintion of cognitive strategies coined by Alley
                    and Deshler (1979, in Masters, Mori, and Mori) as "techniques,
                    principles, or rules that will faciltiate the acquisition,
                    manipulation, integration, storage, and retrieval of information
                    across situations and settings."  They go on to say that "cognitive
                    strategies are a fundamental part of the process of acquiring
                    knowledge as well as the tool skills of reading, writing, speaking,
                    listening, note taking, questioning, vocabulary acquisiton, time
                    management, reasoning, problem solving, and memorization."

                    From reading through the definitions coined by researchers in
                    the area of learning strategies, it would be appropriate to state
                    that learning strategies, in essence, are actions taken by the
                    learner to assist in learning more effectively.

                    Why are the use of learning or cognitive strategies necessary?
                    In the next segment of this website, the rationale behind the use
                    of learning strategies will be examined.