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“We can learn to learn, that is, to implement strategies to acquire knowledge, thanks to the interaction with agents who” give us “their strategies through the process of manifesting the decisions they make when they learn”

marzo 31, 2021
To begin, let’s clarify the terms study techniques and learning strategies. How do you define these two concepts and how are they related to each other?

A study technique is a set of operations that are executed in order to manage information either to record it (for example, notes and annotations), highlight its relevant sections (for example, underlined), summarize it (for example, diagrams) , compare data (for example, summary table), etc. The technique tends to become routine and become a habit, with which it tends to be applied automatically. A processing system, such as a computer, will soon be able to apply these techniques to a text.

A technique becomes a strategy when it is used intentionally to achieve a goal within a given learning context. A strategy therefore supposes a conscious and intentional decision making that answers the question: when, how and why to use this technique? The implementation of a strategy therefore requires “stopping to think” and “reading the context” and involves planning, regulation and evaluation of the technique or techniques that are put into play. A computer will hardly ever be able to act “strategically” when faced with a study task.
Therefore, we can distinguish between a strategic use (taking into account the conditions of a context) or non-strategic (applying it to “fixed gear”, automatically, regardless of the context in which it is used) of a technique (* 1).

How do you learn to learn? In what way can we become self-taught people, prepared to continue training throughout life?

We can learn to learn, that is, to implement strategies to acquire knowledge, thanks to the interaction with other social agents (parents, siblings) and educators (teachers) who “give us” their strategies through the process of manifesting the decisions they make. when they learn and allow us to practice with them and internalize them. Unfortunately, these agents seldom make these thought processes explicit and allow us to access their strategies. In this sense, we find very few students who possess authentic learning strategies; the majority master a few study techniques, and others simply employ general resolution procedures such as repetition, imitation, trial-error, etc.

It is essential to distinguish between a “self-taught” and “autonomous” person. The autonomous learner never learns alone, he is always accompanied by “voices in his mind”, guides and strategies that his tutors taught him one day and that mediate his learning. The self-taught would be a learner who has developed some techniques in an idiosyncratic way, with greater or lesser success, but that is not very flexible and adaptive in its learning.We must therefore train autonomous and not self-taught learners.

What professional can or should teach to learn? Where should this learning take place and when should it take place?

We learn to learn throughout life; very soon we learn that by classifying a set of objects we retain and remember them better or that by translating a concept into our own words we understand it better; unfortunately some of these strategies could be learned earlier if someone taught us purposefully. Therefore it can and should be taught throughout schooling, from pre-school, at university, and throughout life. At all times and in relation to the different types of content to learn and demands to solve, we should acquire the most appropriate strategies. Who should teach them? The teachers of each subject, with the help of specialists in teaching and learning processes (educational psychologists, psychopedagogues). Every teacher is a teacher of his subject and the strategies to learn it.

Can learning techniques and strategies help reduce boredom or increase motivation to study?

Of course. Wanting is not power and when you can, there are many possibilities that you want (* 2). Learning strategies enable students to learn content more extensively and in depth, this favors, on the one hand, that they find greater meaning and satisfaction in what they learn, which also exponentially increase their chances of success in evaluations and exams and What is more important, that they begin to attribute their good results to their effort, study and strategies and not, for example, to something as little controllable as being very or not very intelligent or to the subject or the teacher being a “bone” .

Let’s now talk about the factors that determine the study, starting with the content. Is any learning technique or strategy applicable regardless of the subject of study?

Every strategy has some general elements (for example planning by asking questions of the type: what is the objective of this task? What does the teacher expect me to do? What previous knowledge will be useful to me? What procedures or techniques should I apply? in this situation ?, etc.) and other specific ones related to the contents of that subject (to make a map of concepts in chemistry: what atomic relationship do these components have ?; or in history: what dynastic relationship do these monarchs have? ); and the context in which it is situated (what type of exam does this teacher take? What are his preferences and level of demand? How does he score? How much effort do I want and should I dedicate based on the importance of this subject? ?, etc.)

Regarding age, is it a determining factor when choosing the learning techniques and strategies to apply?

Indeed, the techniques and strategies to be taught should start from the prior knowledge that the learner has, from their instrumental abilities (reading, writing, speaking, mathematizing) and from the functional activities in which they will be applied. If, for example, we want to teach him strategies to self-observe and self-evaluate his progress, we can first teach him to describe and draw what he has learned in a class (infant), to make a learning journal (primary), to prepare a curriculum vitae (secondary) and, finally, a professional curriculum according to demand (university).

Learning can take place in person, blended, or at a distance. Does distance learning require relearning study skills and learning strategies?

Learning and the strategies capable of facilitating it can be acquired in any setting – face-to-face, blended or virtual – that is educational, that is, it has that purpose and has the necessary resources for it.

Some learning strategies, such as those related to the comprehension and production of conventional texts, can be very useful for virtual text processing. In other cases, such as the efficient and reliable search for information on the Internet, it will require particular strategies that should be taught during schooling.

As you point out at the end of the previous question, the training can make use of new technologies and be carried out in a completely virtual environment. How does the use of ICT influence the way students approach study?

ICTs are not only changing the way students study, we could say that they are also changing their minds. We have an obvious example in the way of storing and using information; Currently, young people do not have most of the knowledge archived in their minds, but distributed in digital networks accessible through screens (computer, DVD, mobile, interactive TV …). Knowing is not possessing knowledge, but knowing where to find it and acquire it. This would be just one example of how ICTs are modifying cognitive functions. While we are technological migrants (we have gone from printed to digital knowledge), our students are technological natives, their world is always mediated by computers and they transform, not only the way they observe and learn from that world, but also the organ itself with which they observe it (as it would happen with someone who wears glasses from his earliest childhood, the device not only affects the object contemplated but also the eye that sees itself).

The influence of ICT in the forms of learning will therefore increase (unstoppable) and the response that educators have to give to this new situation is multiple (* 3):

a) We must provide students with specific strategies to learn through ICT. In the same way that frequent television consumption does not guarantee being a selective and critical viewer, continued use of the Internet does not accredit anyone as an intelligent and productive cybernaut; we have to prevent students from “wrecking” by helping them to manage multimedia texts.
b) We must take advantage of the real potential of ICT to promote effective learning strategies through its characteristics as a “mirror” of mental processes, a multifaceted communication tool, multi-code representation systems, etc., avoiding compulsive “zapping”, rehearsal- error, the “cut and paste”, and the indiscriminate copying.

How can study skills and learning strategies help to overcome learning difficulties?

Techniques and strategies can help because they equip students with the tools to consciously analyze the nature of these difficulties and provide them with ways of proceeding and thinking that help them to review and overcome their conceptual obstacles, their misconceptions or their deficient procedures (* 4).

Attention to diversity implies different study rates according to the characteristics of the students. What techniques and strategies can be put into practice to make it easier for each student to learn according to their particular needs and characteristics?

The same concept of strategy that we defined at the beginning, as decisions that adjust to a context, answers this question because a key element of any context is the student who learns and executes the strategy. In reality, every strategy (not the techniques) has personal characteristics since each subject decides how, when and for what to act according to their knowledge, preference, difficulties and possibilities. Consequently, the strategy will be appropriate and effective as long as it adjusts to the peculiar characteristics of the student as a learner (the same could be said of the teaching strategies and their adjustment to the characteristics of the teacher as a teacher).

The different types of training that exist throughout life (compulsory schooling, post-compulsory high school or vocational training, university, continuous training, …) do they require different techniques and learning strategies?

I have partially answered this question in question 3 ….