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Reading and understanding difficult material

Reading and understanding difficult material


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I am not an university graduate but I have a passion for learning. I want to learn computer science and I keep on searching some good reference material. Recently I found some lecture notes on TOC of a well known teacher although he has explained things in detail but I am having hard time to grasp the material. One of the reason being is that they assume that you have a good mathematical foundation and other is you have the TA and professor to help when needed.

Now, for the first reason I have a good mathematical background but sometimes it may not suffice to the expectation. Second, I am a self learner hence I don't have the luxury to clear my doubts and ask questions.

What I am doing is try to study the material normally 2-3 pages and re-read it until it makes sense or I get frustrated, next day I try to feel positive and try again, I am making progress but it feels slow.

The questions are:

  1. I will be able to change my brain's wiring by such constant effort?
  2. How to judge that I know the material? by doing exercises? but I don't have solution?
  3. How to be motivated in such situations?

  1. Definetly yes! Even if you feel frustrated at the beginning, thinking and learning about a topic has an impact on your brain. See for example Robert Greenes book "Mastery" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastery_(book)), where he describes the lives of various geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Darwin. They all spent a lot of time becoming masters of their field.

  2. Theoretical Computer Science is a very abstrct topic. I would recomend you to participate in some online class. See https://www.coursera.org/courses?languages=en&query=computer+science for example. There you can do excercises that get peer reviewed by others. So you know if you did well or not.

  3. Increase you motivation by:

    • Learning in groups like on Coursera.
    • Setting clear goals. What do you want to achieve? Get a better job? Write it down. Hang it on the wall.
    • Taking small steps. If you take steps that are too big, you might feel overwhelmed.

Before I attempt to answer your questions, can I suggest you look at joining the computer science group on This Site. Even though you have no TA or instructor, use of groups like this obviously gove you the benefit of learning through peers.

Now to your questions…

I will be able to change my brain's wiring by such constant effort?

Learning rewires your brain. This article may help to explain that. For more, you could look at these articles

How to judge that I know the material? by doing exercises? but I don't have solution?

That can be a difficult one because as you may not be following a structured curriculum you will not be able to formulate a theory test. However, could you judge understanding by learning what you need to know and testing your theory with some kind of practical test?

How to be motivated in such situations?

There are a few websites and forums out there on studying methods etc. and this page gives ideas on motivation for studying


I have never found a better learning method than to put the book down.

As a great Philosopher of our Age once said "a man has to know his limitations" or more specifically… that he is limited, just a man.


Why older people struggle to read fine print: It's not what you think

Unique research into eye-movements of young and old people while reading discovers that word recognition patterns change as we grow older.

Psychologists from the University of Leicester have carried out unique eye tests to examine reading styles in young and old people -- and discovered for the first time that the way we read words changes as we grow older.

The team from the School of Psychology used an innovative method of digitally manipulating text combined with precise measures of readers' eye movements. This provides novel insights into how young and older adults use different visual cues during reading.

Their results have been published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

The researchers conducted experiments that used very precise measures of readers' eye movements to assess how well they read lines of text that had been digitally manipulated to enhance the salience of different visual information. For instance, sometimes the text was blurred and other times the features of the individual letters were sharply defined.

The results showed that whereas young adults (18-30 years) found it easiest to read lines of text when the fine visual detail was present, this was more difficult for older adults (65+years), who found it easier to read more blurred text. These findings support the view that older adults use a different reading strategy from younger adults and that they rely more than young adults on holistic cues to the identities of words, such as word shape.

The research makes an important contribution to understanding why older people have difficulty in reading. The findings will promote further work to more fully understand this difficulty and already points to ways in which it can be combatted.

Dr Kevin Paterson, from the University of Leicester, said: "The findings showed that the difficulty older readers often experience is likely to be related to a progressive decline in visual sensitivity, particularly for visual detail, due to optical changes and changes in neural transmission even in individuals with apparently normal vision.

"However, the findings also showed that older readers comprehended text just as accurately as younger readers. Consequently, although normal aging clearly leads to important changes in reading behaviour, it seems that adaptive responses to the changing nature of the visual input may help older adults to read and understand text efficiently well into later life."

The research study aimed to understand how changes that take place in the eye and brain as a result of the normal aging process affect reading.

Dr Paterson said: "As we get older, we lose visual sensitivity, particularly to fine visual detail, due to changes in the eye and changes in neural transmission. This loss of visual sensitivity is found even in individuals with apparently normal vision and is not corrected by optical aids, such as glasses or contact lenses. However, it is likely to have consequences for reading.

"The ability to read effectively is fundamental to participation in modern society, and the challenge age-related visual impairment presents to meeting everyday demands of living, working and citizenship is a matter of concern. The difficulty older adults have in reading is an important contributing factor to social exclusion. The RNIB has identified age-related reading difficulty amongst the over 65s as highly detrimental to quality of life and a barrier to employment.

"The fact that people have greater difficulty in reading as they get older limits their ability to engage in everyday activities (e.g., reading the newspaper, a utility bill, or the instructions on a medicine bottle), to continue to work, to read for leisure, to access education and knowledge, and to interact with others. Being able to understand the causes of this reading difficulty is an important first step to identifying ways to combat it.

"With an aging population and a rising retirement age, it is clear such problems pose serious economic and social challenges for the future. Consequently, research on this topic is likely to become increasingly important and both understanding and combatting age-related visual impairment will be important for reducing social exclusion in the elderly.

This, and other on-going research, is funded by The Ulverscroft Foundation and an Economic Research Foundation Professorial Fellowship to Professor Tim Jordan and a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to Kevin Paterson. Vicky McGowan, who is now a PhD student in the School of Psychology, was also a member of the project team.


The Little Book of Psychology by Emily Ralls and Caroline Riggs

All of the best bits about psychology with none of the fluff. This is a good book to read if you want a basic overview of psychology and to learn about the key theories.

The book gives an overview on the famous psychologists, theories, psychological studies and themes you need to know for your course.

Only 128 pages long, this book is a great place to start if you’re a psychology student about to start university.


Note the Sources Cited

When reading a research article, it’s all too easy to focus on the main sections and overlook the references. However, the reference section can actually be one of the most important parts of the paper, especially if you are looking for further sources for your own paper. Spending some time reviewing this section can indicate important research articles on the topic area in which you are interested.

Reading psychology journal articles takes some time and effort, but it is a critical part of the research process. By learning how to approach these articles and knowing what to look for as you skim through them, you will have an easier time selecting sources that are appropriate for your research project or paper.


Comments

Working on improving listening comprehension and spoken language is the hallmark of what speech pathologists have been doing for years with children and young adults who show problems with reading. We have always believed that spoken language is the foundation for reading and writing development. Also, those with reading comprehension problems often begin to show problems with academics beyond grade 4 and into high school. Therefore, we should be working together in classrooms to boost spoken language ability for all students through middle and high school!

After receiving three reading groups in my first year of teaching, I never used three groups again. The only ones with the most confidence were the top readers in the first group. Because in each group there are variations of ability all recognized by others.

I developed a program where each child had their own reading book and soon was able to choose which stories of interest to read. Good comprehension followed after also being exposed to understanding literature read to them and thinking about writing their own stories.

I have a 21 year old niece that can read and is a great speller but she has no comprehensive skills. She is going to a technical school. Her mother has to interpret everything she reads. I would like to give her some cues as to how she can overcome/compensate/adapt to this issue. She is a little immature but I see this as lacking confidence. Otherwise, she is bright, energetic, and engaging. What can I do to help her.

As an adult, what options are available to help us retain what we read. To be able to further my college education, without the fear of not being able to remember any of the text would be a dream come true.

Your article ties in beautifully to points I am making with my capstone project. I teach 5th grade language arts and social studies and am finishing my graduate degree in elementary education. My research was conducted based on the impact of teaching reading through use of novel studies rather than the typical basals. Most often, my lessons consist of me reading aloud to the class, while they follow along with their own copy of the book. Throughout the lessons I ask for either oral or a quick written feed back on dry erase boards to check for understanding of various appropriate skills. My concern is I have focused my study o the impact of novels but I think there is an accidental variable due to the fact I have read so much aloud. Now that I am about finished with my research and writing my paper, and especially after reading articles like yours, I think the biggest factor to my students out performing local students is because of the presentation of the text being mostly oral rather than asking students to read and respond independently. What do you think?

I can relate to this entirely. I seem to fall into the poor comprehension category but my ability to read out words is fine. What help should I get?

This was tremendously helpful and hopeful. I appreciate it completely.

I have a son who is 9 years old. He was tested for gifted and a reading disability in the same year. He is in fourth grade and is on a six and seventh grade level in math. His reading is a second and third grade level. I have bought so many self help books and yet he seems to not be consistent with his fluency and retention. He can score 140 words per min today and score 60 tomorrow. I appreciate your insight.

What kind of “help with spoken language” is recommended?

My son who is also 9 years old, follows your definition of poor comprehender. As just a Jamie has said, my son also can work for aged 10 in maths, can read text for 12 year olds, but understanding what he has read is at age 6. What strategies can used to help him. Your insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Very good questions in the comments. I would love to see the answers. I too was a great reader but walked away many days not knowing what I read. As an adult, I contribute much of my poor comprehension to anxiety and attention (ADD) to what’s being read which falls into an entirely different category.

My mother would be upset with me when I fussed over the format of words on job applications. Thousands of times I tell her, ‘Just because I can read and write in English normally, doesn’t mean I can comprehend what’s on there 100 percent of the time.’ Then she’ll go insane by accusing me of acting like a deer caught in the headlights and that no one will take pity on me.

Ugh, its exhausting to say the least.. In fact, its hard to talk to anyone when my way of processing information interferes with communicating and performing the correct way.

I Teach a H.S. Life Skills class all students are Alternate Assessment students. One student has very good interpersonal skills. Her counselor, who sees her 1X a week has approached me twice asking that I recommend her to be placed in an mainstream-self contained class. I have explained this very issue regarding her comprehension difficulties. This learning disability doesn’t jump out at people who are not working with my student as closely as I am. You are absolutely correct in stating that it can be over looked. Teachers we must be vigilant. Thank you.

This information is very appreciated, and mildly comprehended/understood lol. I am speaking personally when I state that an individual may be greatly articulate in pronunciation/word recognition, yet are greatly deficit in the comprehension of the language being so fluently spoken.
In the original article Hulme and his conclusions supposedly indicate that the training in oral communications/comprehension has a basis in the same success when it comes to reading.
Again, speaking personally, I think there is validity in this. For when there is a prolonged absence of healthy communications such as in the case of “social isolates”, the language centers of the brain seem to suffer. And thus a comprehension disability may manifest.
The question I have is, can these language centers of the brain be re-modified through a contrasting change in healthy oral communications…

The findings are encouraging and valid. However, I feel it is inappropriate to state that reading comprehension is critical to success in life. To imply children, such as my son, whose learning disabilities prevent their reading comprehension from progressing despite all interventions, will be unsuccessful and/or failures at life, is offensive.
Educational difficulties do not automatically result in social and economic disadvantages.

If you have the inability to comprehend information from reports how can you be relied upon to use the information to make critical decisions? Comprehending textural information is important in order to make informed decisions.

These attributes are required at higher positions. It’s one thing having dyslexia which can be mitigated through techniques, but comprehension problems are necessary at higher academic, and subsequently, at higher levels of employment.

But success is subjective.

My son is 18 and is very upset that he cannot understand what he reads in even a simple exam question. He reads great, we had him in a reading recovery program when younger, but as a young adult he has just opened up about the frustration (which he hid so well). I am desperate to help him now but have no idea where to go. This article gives me great hope and normalized our concern.

Hi, My son is 8 years old and now in Year 3. I have noticed and his class adviser as well that he is having difficulty in putting into his own words stories that he is reading. When you ask him a question, his answers are all mixed up. Please let me know how I can help my child. His teacher said that he might be a repeater if my son will not improve. Thank you so much!

It would be great if this article cited references to support what is claims. What paper outlines the study which the findings are based on?

I am a senior and have had a problem with reading. Comprehension my whole life. It still bothers till this day. I read fine but when it comes down to understanding what l read, l’m below average. This has bothered me my whole life. I always explained it to myself as a learning disability. Would love more information on this and a cure, if there is one. P.S. I’ve always been a nervous person.

I am in the 8th grade and i got tested for reading comprehension yesterday and the lady told me i have a college level of math skills, and a 3rd grade level of reading comprehension. Do any of you guys have any strategies for me? Thank you so much.

Could you describe what kind of “training in oral language” the children had that helped them in their comprehension?I have three 8th grade students who are fluent readers, but when I give them informal QRI assessments, they can barely retell what they’ve read. When they are asked the comprehension questions, they can’t answer most of them. Even after looking back in the text they can’t find many of the answers, and even guess at some of them.

Here’s what I can tell you from a person who has suffered from a lack of reading comprehension my entire life. I am 54 years old. I am not a doctor, and have no formal training. I too, was gifted in some areas, but couldn’t comprehend anything I read. As a child, I was always told to find a quiet room with no distractions when I was to read a book. For me, this was the worst advice. My brain multitasks. Parents, get your kids a fidget spinner or something they can do with their hands. Perhaps, listening to music will help. I can listen to music and comprehend reading material at the same time. This is what works for me.

I myself have a reading and Comprehensive Problem

I suffered from reading from a very young age. Probably around kindergarten! I can remember one time my teacher was upset because I cut the paper wrong and didn’t follow her instructions. I could spell and read well until I landed on vocabulary word I couldn’t understand. I had no math difficulties until geometry. The problem was my comprehension was poor. If I could retain what I read it would be help. I could read it well though it wouldn’t sink in. I had trouble remember dates and names. I would be distracted if I didn’t find it interesting or had to remember anything that would be more detailed information. I sometimes understood it if I found it interesting though it was always a struggle. I was young though never read to at home. It may be a lack of stimulation at a young age. I was forth in the pecking order. I still today do not like reading unless it is of interest. I look up words constantly in hope they will sink in. I simply have trouble remembering and all my five other adult family members know that. They have conversations quiet detailed and this information goes from one ear out to the other.
Oh well! I survived and live comfortably.

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Children typically move through several stages as they learn to read:

  • Emergent readers (usually birth to age six) are learning our sound system and how print works, including letter-sound relationships, and the meaning of stories read to them.
  • Early readers (usually age six and seven) are linking speech sounds to letters to make words, learning to decode words, and beginning to make sense of what they read.
  • Transitional readers (usually age seven and eight) are usually reading “like they talk” and have strategies to help them decode words and read with understanding, but may still need support with more difficult reading material.
  • Fluent readers (usually ages eight and up) are reading independently with confidence and understand longer and more difficult types of material. They use word parts to figure out words and relate sections of the story to one another.
  • As fluent readers enter middle and high school, they often read material that has many viewpoints and more complex language and ideas. They draw on what they know from other reading material and experiences to judge what they read and come to conclusions.

For milestones by grade level, please see resources in NCIL’s online repository.


Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools (2002)

During the last four decades, scientists have engaged in research that has increased our understanding of human cognition, providing greater insight into how knowledge is organized, how experience shapes understanding, how people monitor their own understanding, how learners differ from one another, and how people acquire expertise. From this emerging body of research, scientists and others have been able to synthesize a number of underlying principles of human learning. This growing understanding of how people learn has the potential to influence significantly the nature of education and its outcomes.

The committee&rsquos appraisal of advanced study is organized around this research on how people learn (see, for example, Greeno, Collins, and Resnick, 1996 National Research Council [NRC], 2000b 2001a Shepard, 2000). Our appraisal also takes into account a growing understanding of how people develop expertise in a subject area (see, for example, Chi, Feltovich, and Glaser, 1981 NRC, 2000b). Understanding the nature of expertise can shed light on what successful learning might look like and help guide the development of curricula, pedagogy, and assessments that can move students toward more expert-like practices and understandings in a subject area. To make real differences in students&rsquo skill, it is necessary both to understand the nature of expert practice and to devise methods that are appropriate to learning that practice.

The design of educational programs is always guided by beliefs about how students learn in an academic discipline. Whether explicit or implicit, these ideas affect what students in a program will be taught, how they will be taught, and how their learning will be assessed. Thus, educational program designers who believe students learn best through memorization and repeated practice will design their programs differently from those who hold that students learn best through active inquiry and investigation.

The model for advanced study proposed by the committee is supported by research on human learning and is organized around the goal of fostering

learning with deep conceptual understanding or, more simply, learning with understanding. Learning with understanding is strongly advocated by leading mathematics and science educators and researchers for all students, and also is reflected in the national goals and standards for mathematics and science curricula and teaching (American Association for Advancement of Science [AAAS], 1989, 1993 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 1989, 1991, 2000 NRC, 1996). The committee sees as the goal for advanced study in mathematics and science an even deeper level of conceptual understanding and integration than would typically be expected in introductory courses.

Guidance on how to achieve learning with understanding is grounded in seven research-based principles of human learning that are presented below (see Box 6-1). 1 In Chapter 7, these principles are used as the framework for the design of curricula, instruction, and assessments for advanced study&mdashthree facets of classroom activity that, when skillfully orchestrated by the teacher, jointly promote learning with understanding. These principles also serve as the foundation for the design of professional development, for it, too, is a form of advanced learning.

The design principles for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development provide one of the organizing frameworks of the committee&rsquos analysis of the AP and IB programs (see Chapters 8 and 9, this volume). While it could be argued that all components of the educational system (e.g., preservice training and leadership) should be included (and we believe they should), our analysis was limited to these four facets. Although this framework was developed to assess current programs of advanced study, it also can serve as a guide or framework for those involved in developing, implementing, or evaluating new educational programs.

SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN LEARNING

Principle 1: Principled Conceptual Knowledge

Learning with understanding is facilitated when new and existing knowledge is structured around the major concepts and principles of the discipline.

Highly proficient performance in any subject domain requires knowledge that is both accessible and usable. A rich body of content knowledge about a subject area is a necessary component of the ability to think and

The research on which these principles are based has been summarized in How People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience and School (Expanded Edition) (NRC, 2000b).

BOX 6-1 Seven Principles of Learning

Learning with understanding is facilitated when new and existing knowledge is structured around the major concepts and principles of the discipline.

Learners use what they already know to construct new understandings.

Learning is facilitated through the use of metacognitive strategies that identify, monitor, and regulate cognitive processes.

Learners have different strategies, approaches, patterns of abilities, and learning styles that are a function of the interaction between their heredity and their prior experiences.

Learners&rsquo motivation to learn and sense of self affects what is learned, how much is learned, and how much effort will be put into the learning process.

The practices and activities in which people engage while learning shape what is learned.

Learning is enhanced through socially supported interactions.

solve problems in that domain, but knowing many disconnected facts is not enough. Research clearly demonstrates that experts&rsquo content knowledge is structured around the major organizing principles and core concepts of the domain, the &ldquobig ideas&rdquo (e.g., Newton&rsquos second law of motion in physics, the concept of evolution in biology, and the concept of limit in mathematics) (see, for example, Chi et al., 1981 Kozma and Russell, 1997). These big ideas lend coherence to experts&rsquo vast knowledge base help them discern the deep structure of problems and, on that basis, recognize similarities with previously encountered problems. Research also shows that experts&rsquo strategies for thinking and solving problems are closely linked to rich, well-organized bodies of knowledge about subject matter. Their knowledge is connected and organized, and it is &ldquoconditionalized&rdquo to specify the context in which it is applicable.

If one conceives of advanced study as moving students along a continuum toward greater expertise, then advanced study should have as its goal fostering students&rsquo abilities to recognize and structure their growing body of content knowledge according to the most important principles of the discipline. Therefore, curriculum and instruction in advanced study should be designed to develop in learners the ability to see past the surface features of any problem to the deeper, more fundamental principles of the discipline.

Curricula that emphasize breadth of coverage and simple recall of facts may hinder students&rsquo abilities to organize knowledge effectively because they do not learn anything in depth, and thus are not able to structure what they are learning around the major organizing principles and core concepts of the discipline. Even students who prefer to seek understanding are often forced into rote learning by the quantity of information they are asked to absorb.

Principle 2: Prior Knowledge

Learners use what they already know to construct new understandings.

When students come to advanced study, they already possess knowledge, skills, beliefs, concepts, conceptions, and misconceptions that can significantly influence how they think about the world, approach new learning, and go about solving unfamiliar problems (Wandersee, Mintzes, and Novak, 1994). People construct meaning for a new idea or process by relating it to ideas or processes they already understand. This prior knowledge can produce mistakes, but it can also produce correct insights. Some of this knowledge base is discipline specific, while some may be related to but not explicitly within a discipline. Research on cognition has shown that successful learning involves linking new knowledge to what is already known. These links can take different forms, such as adding to, modifying, or reorganizing knowledge or skills. How these links are made may vary in different subject areas and among students with varying talents, interests, and abilities (Paris and Ayers, 1994). Learning with understanding, however, involves more than appending new concepts and processes to existing knowledge it also involves conceptual change and the creation of rich, integrated knowledge structures.

If students&rsquo existing knowledge is not engaged, the understandings they develop through instruction can be very different from what their teacher may have intended learners are more likely to construct interpretations that agree with their own prior knowledge even when those interpretations are in conflict with the teacher&rsquos viewpoint. Thus, lecturing to students is often an ineffective tool for producing conceptual change. For example, Vosniadou and Brewer (1992) describe how learners who believed the world is flat perceived the earth as a three-dimensional pancake after being taught that the world is a sphere.

Moreover, when prior knowledge is not engaged, students are likely to fail to understand or even to separate knowledge learned in school from their beliefs and observations about the world outside the classroom. For

example, despite instruction to the contrary, students of all ages (including college graduates) often persist in their belief that seasons are caused by the earth&rsquos distance from the sun, rather than the inclination of the earth&rsquos axis relative to the plane of its orbit around the sun, which affects the amount of solar energy striking the northern and southern regions of the earth as it orbits the sun (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Science Education Department, 1987). Roth (1986) similarly found that students continued to believe plants obtain food from the soil, rather than making it in their leaves, even after they had been taught about photosynthesis this belief persisted since many failed to recognize that the carbon dioxide extracted from the air has weight and makes up most of a plant&rsquos mass.

Effective teaching involves gauging what learners already know about a subject and finding ways to build on that knowledge. When prior knowledge contains misconceptions, there is a need to reconstruct a whole relevant framework of concepts, not simply to correct the misconception or faulty idea. Effective instruction entails detecting those misconceptions and addressing them, sometimes by challenging them directly (Caravita and Hallden, 1994 Novak, 2002).

The central role played by prior knowledge in the ability to gain new knowledge and understanding has important implications for the preparation of students in the years preceding advanced study. To be successful in advanced study in science or mathematics, students must have acquired a sufficient knowledge base that includes concepts, factual content, and relevant procedures on which to build. This in turn implies that they must have had the opportunity to learn these things. Many students, however, particularly those who attend urban and rural schools, those who are members of certain ethnic or racial groups (African American, Hispanic, and Native American), and those who are poor, are significantly less likely to have equitable access to early opportunities for building this prerequisite knowledge base (Doran, Dugan, and Weffer, 1998 see also Chapter 2, this volume). Inequitable access to adequate preparation can take several forms, including (1) lack of appropriate courses (Ekstrom, Goertz, and Rock, 1988) (2) lack of qualified teachers and high-quality instruction (Gamoran, 1992 Oakes, 1990) (3) placement in low-level classes where the curriculum focuses on less rigorous topics and low-level skills (Burgess, 1983, 1984 Nystrand and Gamoran, 1988 Oakes, 1985) (4) lack of access to resources, such as high-quality science and mathematics facilities, equipment, and textbooks (Oakes, Gamoran, and Page, 1992) and (5) lack of guidance and encouragement to prepare for advanced study (Lee and Ekstrom, 1987).

Students who lack opportunities to gain important knowledge and skills in the early grades may never get to participate in advanced classes where higher-order skills are typically taught (Burnett, 1995). Consequently, these

students may be precluded very early in their school careers from later participation in advanced study&mdasheven when they are interested and motivated to enroll. In essence, they are &ldquotracked away.&rdquo The end result is that many students are denied access to important experiences that would prepare them to pursue the study of mathematics and sciences beyond high school.

Principle 3: Metacognition

Learning is facilitated through the use of metacognitive strategies that identify, monitor, and regulate cognitive processes.

To be effective problem solvers and learners, students need to determine what they already know and what else they need to know in any given situation. They must consider both factual knowledge&mdashabout the task, their goals, and their abilities&mdashand strategic knowledge about how and when to use a specific procedure to solve the problem at hand (Ferrari and Sternberg, 1998). In other words, to be effective problem solvers, students must be metacognitive. Empirical studies show that students who are metacognitively aware perform better than those who are not (Garner and Alexander, 1989 Schoenfeld, 1987).

Metacognition is an important aspect of students&rsquo intellectual development that enables them to benefit from instruction (Carr, Kurtz, Schneider, Turner, and Borkowski, 1989 Flavell, 1979 Garner, 1987 Novak, 1985 Van Zile-Tamsen, 1996) and helps them know what to do when things are not going as expected (Schoenfeld, 1983 Skemp, 1978, 1979). For example, research demonstrates that students with better-developed metacognitive strategies will abandon an unproductive problem-solving strategy very quickly and substitute a more productive one, whereas students with less effective metacognitive skills will continue to use the same strategy long after it has failed to produce results (Gobert and Clement, 1999). The basic metacognitive strategies include (1) connecting new information to former knowledge (2) selecting thinking strategies deliberately and (3) planning, monitoring, and evaluating thinking processes (Dirkes, 1985).

Experts have highly developed metacognitive skills related to their specific area of expertise. If students in a subject area are to develop problem-solving strategies consistent with the ways in which experts in the discipline approach problems, one important goal of advanced study should be to help students become more metacognitive. Fortunately, research indicates that students&rsquo metacognitive abilities can be developed through explicit instruction and through opportunities to observe teachers or other content experts as they solve problems and consider ideas while making their thinking visible to those observing (Collins and Smith, 1982 Lester et al., 1994

Schoenfeld, 1983, 1985). Having students construct concept maps 2 for a topic of study can also provide powerful metacognitive insights, especially when students work in teams of three or more (see Box 6-2 for a discussion of concept maps). It is important to note that the teaching of metacognitive skills is often best accomplished in specific content areas since the ability to monitor one&rsquos understanding is closely tied to the activities and questions that are central to domain-specific knowledge and expertise (NRC, 2000b).

Principle 4: Differences Among Learners

Learners have different strategies, approaches, patterns of abilities, and learning styles that are a function of the interaction between their heredity and their prior experiences.

Individuals are born with potential that develops through their interaction with their environment to produce their current capabilities and talents. Thus among learners of the same age, there are important differences in cognitive abilities, such as linguistic and spatial aptitudes or the ability to work with symbolic quantities representing properties of the natural world, as well as in emotional, cultural, and motivational characteristics.

Additionally, by the time students reach high school, they have acquired their own preferences regarding how they like to learn and at what pace. Thus, some students will respond favorably to one kind of instruction, whereas others will benefit more from a different approach. Educators need to be sensitive to such differences so that instruction and curricular materials will be suitably matched to students&rsquo developing abilities, knowledge base, preferences, and styles. (Annex 6-1 illustrates some of the ways in which curriculum and instruction might be modified to meet the learning needs of high-ability learners.)

Appreciation of differences among learners also has implications for the design of appropriate assessments and evaluations of student learning. Students with different learning styles need a range of opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. For example, some students work well


English Listening & Reading Comprehension Exercises

Listening and reading comprehension exercises can help you understand English better. You need to read and listen to English often to build your English vocabulary and fluency.

Do you need a way to check how much you understand?

Try some of the comprehension exercises on this page!

There are several kinds of exercises on different subjects and at different levels. Choose the ones that are best for you!

Many of the videos also have a transcript-- a written version of what you heard.

This means that you can also use them to practice your reading and increase your vocabulary. (It helps because you can both see and hear the words-- often more than once.)

Your will also get better at speaking and writing, as the rhythms of English become more familiar.


Reading is not studying

Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. It is simply re-reading your notes. Only ‘doing’ the readings for class is not studying. It is simply doing the reading for class. Re-reading leads to quick forgetting.

Think of reading as an important part of pre-studying, but learning information requires actively engaging in the material (Edwards, 2014). Active engagement is the process of constructing meaning from text that involves making connections to lectures, forming examples, and regulating your own learning (Davis, 2007). Active studying does not mean highlighting or underlining text, re-reading, or rote memorization. Though these activities may help to keep you engaged in the task, they are not considered active studying techniques and are weakly related to improved learning (Mackenzie, 1994).

Ideas for active studying include:

  • Create a study guide by topic. Formulate questions and problems and write complete answers. Create your own quiz.
  • Become a teacher. Say the information aloud in your own words as if you are the instructor and teaching the concepts to a class.
  • Derive examples that relate to your own experiences.
  • Create concept maps or diagrams that explain the material.
  • Develop symbols that represent concepts.
  • For non-technical classes (e.g., English, History, Psychology), figure out the big ideas so you can explain, contrast, and re-evaluate them.
  • For technical classes, work the problems and explain the steps and why they work.
  • Study in terms of question, evidence, and conclusion: What is the question posed by the instructor/author? What is the evidence that they present? What is the conclusion?

Organization and planning will help you to actively study for your courses. When studying for a test, organize your materials first and then begin your active reviewing by topic (Newport, 2007). Often professors provide subtopics on the syllabi. Use them as a guide to help organize your materials. For example, gather all of the materials for one topic (e.g., PowerPoint notes, text book notes, articles, homework, etc.) and put them together in a pile. Label each pile with the topic and study by topics.

For more information on the principle behind active studying, check out our tipsheet on metacognition.


Why Reading Comprehension Is Important

Proper reading comprehension can be difficult, so why bother? Even though learning how to properly read and comprehend texts is a complicated process, it is a necessary skill to master, both for work and for pleasure.

You will need to know how to read and interpret all kinds of different texts—both on the basic, literal level and on a more in-depth level—throughout your schooling, in college, and in the working world (as well as in your recreation time!). If we think about "reading" just as a literal or surface understanding of a piece and "reading comprehension" as the complete understanding, a person can only get by in the world on pure "reading" for so long.

Reading comprehension is essential for many significant aspects of daily life, such as:

  • Reading, understanding, and analyzing literature in your English classes
  • Reading and understanding texts from your other class subjects, such as history, math, or science
  • Doing well on both the written and math sections of the SAT (or all five sections of the ACT)
  • Understanding and engaging with current events presented in written form, such as news reports
  • Properly understanding and responding to any and all other workplace correspondence, such as essays, reports, memos, and analyses
  • Simply taking pleasure in written work on your own leisure time

Just like with any goal or skill, we can master reading comprehension one step at a time.


Why older people struggle to read fine print: It's not what you think

Unique research into eye-movements of young and old people while reading discovers that word recognition patterns change as we grow older.

Psychologists from the University of Leicester have carried out unique eye tests to examine reading styles in young and old people -- and discovered for the first time that the way we read words changes as we grow older.

The team from the School of Psychology used an innovative method of digitally manipulating text combined with precise measures of readers' eye movements. This provides novel insights into how young and older adults use different visual cues during reading.

Their results have been published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

The researchers conducted experiments that used very precise measures of readers' eye movements to assess how well they read lines of text that had been digitally manipulated to enhance the salience of different visual information. For instance, sometimes the text was blurred and other times the features of the individual letters were sharply defined.

The results showed that whereas young adults (18-30 years) found it easiest to read lines of text when the fine visual detail was present, this was more difficult for older adults (65+years), who found it easier to read more blurred text. These findings support the view that older adults use a different reading strategy from younger adults and that they rely more than young adults on holistic cues to the identities of words, such as word shape.

The research makes an important contribution to understanding why older people have difficulty in reading. The findings will promote further work to more fully understand this difficulty and already points to ways in which it can be combatted.

Dr Kevin Paterson, from the University of Leicester, said: "The findings showed that the difficulty older readers often experience is likely to be related to a progressive decline in visual sensitivity, particularly for visual detail, due to optical changes and changes in neural transmission even in individuals with apparently normal vision.

"However, the findings also showed that older readers comprehended text just as accurately as younger readers. Consequently, although normal aging clearly leads to important changes in reading behaviour, it seems that adaptive responses to the changing nature of the visual input may help older adults to read and understand text efficiently well into later life."

The research study aimed to understand how changes that take place in the eye and brain as a result of the normal aging process affect reading.

Dr Paterson said: "As we get older, we lose visual sensitivity, particularly to fine visual detail, due to changes in the eye and changes in neural transmission. This loss of visual sensitivity is found even in individuals with apparently normal vision and is not corrected by optical aids, such as glasses or contact lenses. However, it is likely to have consequences for reading.

"The ability to read effectively is fundamental to participation in modern society, and the challenge age-related visual impairment presents to meeting everyday demands of living, working and citizenship is a matter of concern. The difficulty older adults have in reading is an important contributing factor to social exclusion. The RNIB has identified age-related reading difficulty amongst the over 65s as highly detrimental to quality of life and a barrier to employment.

"The fact that people have greater difficulty in reading as they get older limits their ability to engage in everyday activities (e.g., reading the newspaper, a utility bill, or the instructions on a medicine bottle), to continue to work, to read for leisure, to access education and knowledge, and to interact with others. Being able to understand the causes of this reading difficulty is an important first step to identifying ways to combat it.

"With an aging population and a rising retirement age, it is clear such problems pose serious economic and social challenges for the future. Consequently, research on this topic is likely to become increasingly important and both understanding and combatting age-related visual impairment will be important for reducing social exclusion in the elderly.

This, and other on-going research, is funded by The Ulverscroft Foundation and an Economic Research Foundation Professorial Fellowship to Professor Tim Jordan and a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to Kevin Paterson. Vicky McGowan, who is now a PhD student in the School of Psychology, was also a member of the project team.


English Listening & Reading Comprehension Exercises

Listening and reading comprehension exercises can help you understand English better. You need to read and listen to English often to build your English vocabulary and fluency.

Do you need a way to check how much you understand?

Try some of the comprehension exercises on this page!

There are several kinds of exercises on different subjects and at different levels. Choose the ones that are best for you!

Many of the videos also have a transcript-- a written version of what you heard.

This means that you can also use them to practice your reading and increase your vocabulary. (It helps because you can both see and hear the words-- often more than once.)

Your will also get better at speaking and writing, as the rhythms of English become more familiar.


Reading is not studying

Simply reading and re-reading texts or notes is not actively engaging in the material. It is simply re-reading your notes. Only ‘doing’ the readings for class is not studying. It is simply doing the reading for class. Re-reading leads to quick forgetting.

Think of reading as an important part of pre-studying, but learning information requires actively engaging in the material (Edwards, 2014). Active engagement is the process of constructing meaning from text that involves making connections to lectures, forming examples, and regulating your own learning (Davis, 2007). Active studying does not mean highlighting or underlining text, re-reading, or rote memorization. Though these activities may help to keep you engaged in the task, they are not considered active studying techniques and are weakly related to improved learning (Mackenzie, 1994).

Ideas for active studying include:

  • Create a study guide by topic. Formulate questions and problems and write complete answers. Create your own quiz.
  • Become a teacher. Say the information aloud in your own words as if you are the instructor and teaching the concepts to a class.
  • Derive examples that relate to your own experiences.
  • Create concept maps or diagrams that explain the material.
  • Develop symbols that represent concepts.
  • For non-technical classes (e.g., English, History, Psychology), figure out the big ideas so you can explain, contrast, and re-evaluate them.
  • For technical classes, work the problems and explain the steps and why they work.
  • Study in terms of question, evidence, and conclusion: What is the question posed by the instructor/author? What is the evidence that they present? What is the conclusion?

Organization and planning will help you to actively study for your courses. When studying for a test, organize your materials first and then begin your active reviewing by topic (Newport, 2007). Often professors provide subtopics on the syllabi. Use them as a guide to help organize your materials. For example, gather all of the materials for one topic (e.g., PowerPoint notes, text book notes, articles, homework, etc.) and put them together in a pile. Label each pile with the topic and study by topics.

For more information on the principle behind active studying, check out our tipsheet on metacognition.


Why Reading Comprehension Is Important

Proper reading comprehension can be difficult, so why bother? Even though learning how to properly read and comprehend texts is a complicated process, it is a necessary skill to master, both for work and for pleasure.

You will need to know how to read and interpret all kinds of different texts—both on the basic, literal level and on a more in-depth level—throughout your schooling, in college, and in the working world (as well as in your recreation time!). If we think about "reading" just as a literal or surface understanding of a piece and "reading comprehension" as the complete understanding, a person can only get by in the world on pure "reading" for so long.

Reading comprehension is essential for many significant aspects of daily life, such as:

  • Reading, understanding, and analyzing literature in your English classes
  • Reading and understanding texts from your other class subjects, such as history, math, or science
  • Doing well on both the written and math sections of the SAT (or all five sections of the ACT)
  • Understanding and engaging with current events presented in written form, such as news reports
  • Properly understanding and responding to any and all other workplace correspondence, such as essays, reports, memos, and analyses
  • Simply taking pleasure in written work on your own leisure time

Just like with any goal or skill, we can master reading comprehension one step at a time.


Comments

Working on improving listening comprehension and spoken language is the hallmark of what speech pathologists have been doing for years with children and young adults who show problems with reading. We have always believed that spoken language is the foundation for reading and writing development. Also, those with reading comprehension problems often begin to show problems with academics beyond grade 4 and into high school. Therefore, we should be working together in classrooms to boost spoken language ability for all students through middle and high school!

After receiving three reading groups in my first year of teaching, I never used three groups again. The only ones with the most confidence were the top readers in the first group. Because in each group there are variations of ability all recognized by others.

I developed a program where each child had their own reading book and soon was able to choose which stories of interest to read. Good comprehension followed after also being exposed to understanding literature read to them and thinking about writing their own stories.

I have a 21 year old niece that can read and is a great speller but she has no comprehensive skills. She is going to a technical school. Her mother has to interpret everything she reads. I would like to give her some cues as to how she can overcome/compensate/adapt to this issue. She is a little immature but I see this as lacking confidence. Otherwise, she is bright, energetic, and engaging. What can I do to help her.

As an adult, what options are available to help us retain what we read. To be able to further my college education, without the fear of not being able to remember any of the text would be a dream come true.

Your article ties in beautifully to points I am making with my capstone project. I teach 5th grade language arts and social studies and am finishing my graduate degree in elementary education. My research was conducted based on the impact of teaching reading through use of novel studies rather than the typical basals. Most often, my lessons consist of me reading aloud to the class, while they follow along with their own copy of the book. Throughout the lessons I ask for either oral or a quick written feed back on dry erase boards to check for understanding of various appropriate skills. My concern is I have focused my study o the impact of novels but I think there is an accidental variable due to the fact I have read so much aloud. Now that I am about finished with my research and writing my paper, and especially after reading articles like yours, I think the biggest factor to my students out performing local students is because of the presentation of the text being mostly oral rather than asking students to read and respond independently. What do you think?

I can relate to this entirely. I seem to fall into the poor comprehension category but my ability to read out words is fine. What help should I get?

This was tremendously helpful and hopeful. I appreciate it completely.

I have a son who is 9 years old. He was tested for gifted and a reading disability in the same year. He is in fourth grade and is on a six and seventh grade level in math. His reading is a second and third grade level. I have bought so many self help books and yet he seems to not be consistent with his fluency and retention. He can score 140 words per min today and score 60 tomorrow. I appreciate your insight.

What kind of “help with spoken language” is recommended?

My son who is also 9 years old, follows your definition of poor comprehender. As just a Jamie has said, my son also can work for aged 10 in maths, can read text for 12 year olds, but understanding what he has read is at age 6. What strategies can used to help him. Your insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Very good questions in the comments. I would love to see the answers. I too was a great reader but walked away many days not knowing what I read. As an adult, I contribute much of my poor comprehension to anxiety and attention (ADD) to what’s being read which falls into an entirely different category.

My mother would be upset with me when I fussed over the format of words on job applications. Thousands of times I tell her, ‘Just because I can read and write in English normally, doesn’t mean I can comprehend what’s on there 100 percent of the time.’ Then she’ll go insane by accusing me of acting like a deer caught in the headlights and that no one will take pity on me.

Ugh, its exhausting to say the least.. In fact, its hard to talk to anyone when my way of processing information interferes with communicating and performing the correct way.

I Teach a H.S. Life Skills class all students are Alternate Assessment students. One student has very good interpersonal skills. Her counselor, who sees her 1X a week has approached me twice asking that I recommend her to be placed in an mainstream-self contained class. I have explained this very issue regarding her comprehension difficulties. This learning disability doesn’t jump out at people who are not working with my student as closely as I am. You are absolutely correct in stating that it can be over looked. Teachers we must be vigilant. Thank you.

This information is very appreciated, and mildly comprehended/understood lol. I am speaking personally when I state that an individual may be greatly articulate in pronunciation/word recognition, yet are greatly deficit in the comprehension of the language being so fluently spoken.
In the original article Hulme and his conclusions supposedly indicate that the training in oral communications/comprehension has a basis in the same success when it comes to reading.
Again, speaking personally, I think there is validity in this. For when there is a prolonged absence of healthy communications such as in the case of “social isolates”, the language centers of the brain seem to suffer. And thus a comprehension disability may manifest.
The question I have is, can these language centers of the brain be re-modified through a contrasting change in healthy oral communications…

The findings are encouraging and valid. However, I feel it is inappropriate to state that reading comprehension is critical to success in life. To imply children, such as my son, whose learning disabilities prevent their reading comprehension from progressing despite all interventions, will be unsuccessful and/or failures at life, is offensive.
Educational difficulties do not automatically result in social and economic disadvantages.

If you have the inability to comprehend information from reports how can you be relied upon to use the information to make critical decisions? Comprehending textural information is important in order to make informed decisions.

These attributes are required at higher positions. It’s one thing having dyslexia which can be mitigated through techniques, but comprehension problems are necessary at higher academic, and subsequently, at higher levels of employment.

But success is subjective.

My son is 18 and is very upset that he cannot understand what he reads in even a simple exam question. He reads great, we had him in a reading recovery program when younger, but as a young adult he has just opened up about the frustration (which he hid so well). I am desperate to help him now but have no idea where to go. This article gives me great hope and normalized our concern.

Hi, My son is 8 years old and now in Year 3. I have noticed and his class adviser as well that he is having difficulty in putting into his own words stories that he is reading. When you ask him a question, his answers are all mixed up. Please let me know how I can help my child. His teacher said that he might be a repeater if my son will not improve. Thank you so much!

It would be great if this article cited references to support what is claims. What paper outlines the study which the findings are based on?

I am a senior and have had a problem with reading. Comprehension my whole life. It still bothers till this day. I read fine but when it comes down to understanding what l read, l’m below average. This has bothered me my whole life. I always explained it to myself as a learning disability. Would love more information on this and a cure, if there is one. P.S. I’ve always been a nervous person.

I am in the 8th grade and i got tested for reading comprehension yesterday and the lady told me i have a college level of math skills, and a 3rd grade level of reading comprehension. Do any of you guys have any strategies for me? Thank you so much.

Could you describe what kind of “training in oral language” the children had that helped them in their comprehension?I have three 8th grade students who are fluent readers, but when I give them informal QRI assessments, they can barely retell what they’ve read. When they are asked the comprehension questions, they can’t answer most of them. Even after looking back in the text they can’t find many of the answers, and even guess at some of them.

Here’s what I can tell you from a person who has suffered from a lack of reading comprehension my entire life. I am 54 years old. I am not a doctor, and have no formal training. I too, was gifted in some areas, but couldn’t comprehend anything I read. As a child, I was always told to find a quiet room with no distractions when I was to read a book. For me, this was the worst advice. My brain multitasks. Parents, get your kids a fidget spinner or something they can do with their hands. Perhaps, listening to music will help. I can listen to music and comprehend reading material at the same time. This is what works for me.

I myself have a reading and Comprehensive Problem

I suffered from reading from a very young age. Probably around kindergarten! I can remember one time my teacher was upset because I cut the paper wrong and didn’t follow her instructions. I could spell and read well until I landed on vocabulary word I couldn’t understand. I had no math difficulties until geometry. The problem was my comprehension was poor. If I could retain what I read it would be help. I could read it well though it wouldn’t sink in. I had trouble remember dates and names. I would be distracted if I didn’t find it interesting or had to remember anything that would be more detailed information. I sometimes understood it if I found it interesting though it was always a struggle. I was young though never read to at home. It may be a lack of stimulation at a young age. I was forth in the pecking order. I still today do not like reading unless it is of interest. I look up words constantly in hope they will sink in. I simply have trouble remembering and all my five other adult family members know that. They have conversations quiet detailed and this information goes from one ear out to the other.
Oh well! I survived and live comfortably.

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Children typically move through several stages as they learn to read:

  • Emergent readers (usually birth to age six) are learning our sound system and how print works, including letter-sound relationships, and the meaning of stories read to them.
  • Early readers (usually age six and seven) are linking speech sounds to letters to make words, learning to decode words, and beginning to make sense of what they read.
  • Transitional readers (usually age seven and eight) are usually reading “like they talk” and have strategies to help them decode words and read with understanding, but may still need support with more difficult reading material.
  • Fluent readers (usually ages eight and up) are reading independently with confidence and understand longer and more difficult types of material. They use word parts to figure out words and relate sections of the story to one another.
  • As fluent readers enter middle and high school, they often read material that has many viewpoints and more complex language and ideas. They draw on what they know from other reading material and experiences to judge what they read and come to conclusions.

For milestones by grade level, please see resources in NCIL’s online repository.


The Little Book of Psychology by Emily Ralls and Caroline Riggs

All of the best bits about psychology with none of the fluff. This is a good book to read if you want a basic overview of psychology and to learn about the key theories.

The book gives an overview on the famous psychologists, theories, psychological studies and themes you need to know for your course.

Only 128 pages long, this book is a great place to start if you’re a psychology student about to start university.


Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools (2002)

During the last four decades, scientists have engaged in research that has increased our understanding of human cognition, providing greater insight into how knowledge is organized, how experience shapes understanding, how people monitor their own understanding, how learners differ from one another, and how people acquire expertise. From this emerging body of research, scientists and others have been able to synthesize a number of underlying principles of human learning. This growing understanding of how people learn has the potential to influence significantly the nature of education and its outcomes.

The committee&rsquos appraisal of advanced study is organized around this research on how people learn (see, for example, Greeno, Collins, and Resnick, 1996 National Research Council [NRC], 2000b 2001a Shepard, 2000). Our appraisal also takes into account a growing understanding of how people develop expertise in a subject area (see, for example, Chi, Feltovich, and Glaser, 1981 NRC, 2000b). Understanding the nature of expertise can shed light on what successful learning might look like and help guide the development of curricula, pedagogy, and assessments that can move students toward more expert-like practices and understandings in a subject area. To make real differences in students&rsquo skill, it is necessary both to understand the nature of expert practice and to devise methods that are appropriate to learning that practice.

The design of educational programs is always guided by beliefs about how students learn in an academic discipline. Whether explicit or implicit, these ideas affect what students in a program will be taught, how they will be taught, and how their learning will be assessed. Thus, educational program designers who believe students learn best through memorization and repeated practice will design their programs differently from those who hold that students learn best through active inquiry and investigation.

The model for advanced study proposed by the committee is supported by research on human learning and is organized around the goal of fostering

learning with deep conceptual understanding or, more simply, learning with understanding. Learning with understanding is strongly advocated by leading mathematics and science educators and researchers for all students, and also is reflected in the national goals and standards for mathematics and science curricula and teaching (American Association for Advancement of Science [AAAS], 1989, 1993 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 1989, 1991, 2000 NRC, 1996). The committee sees as the goal for advanced study in mathematics and science an even deeper level of conceptual understanding and integration than would typically be expected in introductory courses.

Guidance on how to achieve learning with understanding is grounded in seven research-based principles of human learning that are presented below (see Box 6-1). 1 In Chapter 7, these principles are used as the framework for the design of curricula, instruction, and assessments for advanced study&mdashthree facets of classroom activity that, when skillfully orchestrated by the teacher, jointly promote learning with understanding. These principles also serve as the foundation for the design of professional development, for it, too, is a form of advanced learning.

The design principles for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development provide one of the organizing frameworks of the committee&rsquos analysis of the AP and IB programs (see Chapters 8 and 9, this volume). While it could be argued that all components of the educational system (e.g., preservice training and leadership) should be included (and we believe they should), our analysis was limited to these four facets. Although this framework was developed to assess current programs of advanced study, it also can serve as a guide or framework for those involved in developing, implementing, or evaluating new educational programs.

SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN LEARNING

Principle 1: Principled Conceptual Knowledge

Learning with understanding is facilitated when new and existing knowledge is structured around the major concepts and principles of the discipline.

Highly proficient performance in any subject domain requires knowledge that is both accessible and usable. A rich body of content knowledge about a subject area is a necessary component of the ability to think and

The research on which these principles are based has been summarized in How People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience and School (Expanded Edition) (NRC, 2000b).

BOX 6-1 Seven Principles of Learning

Learning with understanding is facilitated when new and existing knowledge is structured around the major concepts and principles of the discipline.

Learners use what they already know to construct new understandings.

Learning is facilitated through the use of metacognitive strategies that identify, monitor, and regulate cognitive processes.

Learners have different strategies, approaches, patterns of abilities, and learning styles that are a function of the interaction between their heredity and their prior experiences.

Learners&rsquo motivation to learn and sense of self affects what is learned, how much is learned, and how much effort will be put into the learning process.

The practices and activities in which people engage while learning shape what is learned.

Learning is enhanced through socially supported interactions.

solve problems in that domain, but knowing many disconnected facts is not enough. Research clearly demonstrates that experts&rsquo content knowledge is structured around the major organizing principles and core concepts of the domain, the &ldquobig ideas&rdquo (e.g., Newton&rsquos second law of motion in physics, the concept of evolution in biology, and the concept of limit in mathematics) (see, for example, Chi et al., 1981 Kozma and Russell, 1997). These big ideas lend coherence to experts&rsquo vast knowledge base help them discern the deep structure of problems and, on that basis, recognize similarities with previously encountered problems. Research also shows that experts&rsquo strategies for thinking and solving problems are closely linked to rich, well-organized bodies of knowledge about subject matter. Their knowledge is connected and organized, and it is &ldquoconditionalized&rdquo to specify the context in which it is applicable.

If one conceives of advanced study as moving students along a continuum toward greater expertise, then advanced study should have as its goal fostering students&rsquo abilities to recognize and structure their growing body of content knowledge according to the most important principles of the discipline. Therefore, curriculum and instruction in advanced study should be designed to develop in learners the ability to see past the surface features of any problem to the deeper, more fundamental principles of the discipline.

Curricula that emphasize breadth of coverage and simple recall of facts may hinder students&rsquo abilities to organize knowledge effectively because they do not learn anything in depth, and thus are not able to structure what they are learning around the major organizing principles and core concepts of the discipline. Even students who prefer to seek understanding are often forced into rote learning by the quantity of information they are asked to absorb.

Principle 2: Prior Knowledge

Learners use what they already know to construct new understandings.

When students come to advanced study, they already possess knowledge, skills, beliefs, concepts, conceptions, and misconceptions that can significantly influence how they think about the world, approach new learning, and go about solving unfamiliar problems (Wandersee, Mintzes, and Novak, 1994). People construct meaning for a new idea or process by relating it to ideas or processes they already understand. This prior knowledge can produce mistakes, but it can also produce correct insights. Some of this knowledge base is discipline specific, while some may be related to but not explicitly within a discipline. Research on cognition has shown that successful learning involves linking new knowledge to what is already known. These links can take different forms, such as adding to, modifying, or reorganizing knowledge or skills. How these links are made may vary in different subject areas and among students with varying talents, interests, and abilities (Paris and Ayers, 1994). Learning with understanding, however, involves more than appending new concepts and processes to existing knowledge it also involves conceptual change and the creation of rich, integrated knowledge structures.

If students&rsquo existing knowledge is not engaged, the understandings they develop through instruction can be very different from what their teacher may have intended learners are more likely to construct interpretations that agree with their own prior knowledge even when those interpretations are in conflict with the teacher&rsquos viewpoint. Thus, lecturing to students is often an ineffective tool for producing conceptual change. For example, Vosniadou and Brewer (1992) describe how learners who believed the world is flat perceived the earth as a three-dimensional pancake after being taught that the world is a sphere.

Moreover, when prior knowledge is not engaged, students are likely to fail to understand or even to separate knowledge learned in school from their beliefs and observations about the world outside the classroom. For

example, despite instruction to the contrary, students of all ages (including college graduates) often persist in their belief that seasons are caused by the earth&rsquos distance from the sun, rather than the inclination of the earth&rsquos axis relative to the plane of its orbit around the sun, which affects the amount of solar energy striking the northern and southern regions of the earth as it orbits the sun (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Science Education Department, 1987). Roth (1986) similarly found that students continued to believe plants obtain food from the soil, rather than making it in their leaves, even after they had been taught about photosynthesis this belief persisted since many failed to recognize that the carbon dioxide extracted from the air has weight and makes up most of a plant&rsquos mass.

Effective teaching involves gauging what learners already know about a subject and finding ways to build on that knowledge. When prior knowledge contains misconceptions, there is a need to reconstruct a whole relevant framework of concepts, not simply to correct the misconception or faulty idea. Effective instruction entails detecting those misconceptions and addressing them, sometimes by challenging them directly (Caravita and Hallden, 1994 Novak, 2002).

The central role played by prior knowledge in the ability to gain new knowledge and understanding has important implications for the preparation of students in the years preceding advanced study. To be successful in advanced study in science or mathematics, students must have acquired a sufficient knowledge base that includes concepts, factual content, and relevant procedures on which to build. This in turn implies that they must have had the opportunity to learn these things. Many students, however, particularly those who attend urban and rural schools, those who are members of certain ethnic or racial groups (African American, Hispanic, and Native American), and those who are poor, are significantly less likely to have equitable access to early opportunities for building this prerequisite knowledge base (Doran, Dugan, and Weffer, 1998 see also Chapter 2, this volume). Inequitable access to adequate preparation can take several forms, including (1) lack of appropriate courses (Ekstrom, Goertz, and Rock, 1988) (2) lack of qualified teachers and high-quality instruction (Gamoran, 1992 Oakes, 1990) (3) placement in low-level classes where the curriculum focuses on less rigorous topics and low-level skills (Burgess, 1983, 1984 Nystrand and Gamoran, 1988 Oakes, 1985) (4) lack of access to resources, such as high-quality science and mathematics facilities, equipment, and textbooks (Oakes, Gamoran, and Page, 1992) and (5) lack of guidance and encouragement to prepare for advanced study (Lee and Ekstrom, 1987).

Students who lack opportunities to gain important knowledge and skills in the early grades may never get to participate in advanced classes where higher-order skills are typically taught (Burnett, 1995). Consequently, these

students may be precluded very early in their school careers from later participation in advanced study&mdasheven when they are interested and motivated to enroll. In essence, they are &ldquotracked away.&rdquo The end result is that many students are denied access to important experiences that would prepare them to pursue the study of mathematics and sciences beyond high school.

Principle 3: Metacognition

Learning is facilitated through the use of metacognitive strategies that identify, monitor, and regulate cognitive processes.

To be effective problem solvers and learners, students need to determine what they already know and what else they need to know in any given situation. They must consider both factual knowledge&mdashabout the task, their goals, and their abilities&mdashand strategic knowledge about how and when to use a specific procedure to solve the problem at hand (Ferrari and Sternberg, 1998). In other words, to be effective problem solvers, students must be metacognitive. Empirical studies show that students who are metacognitively aware perform better than those who are not (Garner and Alexander, 1989 Schoenfeld, 1987).

Metacognition is an important aspect of students&rsquo intellectual development that enables them to benefit from instruction (Carr, Kurtz, Schneider, Turner, and Borkowski, 1989 Flavell, 1979 Garner, 1987 Novak, 1985 Van Zile-Tamsen, 1996) and helps them know what to do when things are not going as expected (Schoenfeld, 1983 Skemp, 1978, 1979). For example, research demonstrates that students with better-developed metacognitive strategies will abandon an unproductive problem-solving strategy very quickly and substitute a more productive one, whereas students with less effective metacognitive skills will continue to use the same strategy long after it has failed to produce results (Gobert and Clement, 1999). The basic metacognitive strategies include (1) connecting new information to former knowledge (2) selecting thinking strategies deliberately and (3) planning, monitoring, and evaluating thinking processes (Dirkes, 1985).

Experts have highly developed metacognitive skills related to their specific area of expertise. If students in a subject area are to develop problem-solving strategies consistent with the ways in which experts in the discipline approach problems, one important goal of advanced study should be to help students become more metacognitive. Fortunately, research indicates that students&rsquo metacognitive abilities can be developed through explicit instruction and through opportunities to observe teachers or other content experts as they solve problems and consider ideas while making their thinking visible to those observing (Collins and Smith, 1982 Lester et al., 1994

Schoenfeld, 1983, 1985). Having students construct concept maps 2 for a topic of study can also provide powerful metacognitive insights, especially when students work in teams of three or more (see Box 6-2 for a discussion of concept maps). It is important to note that the teaching of metacognitive skills is often best accomplished in specific content areas since the ability to monitor one&rsquos understanding is closely tied to the activities and questions that are central to domain-specific knowledge and expertise (NRC, 2000b).

Principle 4: Differences Among Learners

Learners have different strategies, approaches, patterns of abilities, and learning styles that are a function of the interaction between their heredity and their prior experiences.

Individuals are born with potential that develops through their interaction with their environment to produce their current capabilities and talents. Thus among learners of the same age, there are important differences in cognitive abilities, such as linguistic and spatial aptitudes or the ability to work with symbolic quantities representing properties of the natural world, as well as in emotional, cultural, and motivational characteristics.

Additionally, by the time students reach high school, they have acquired their own preferences regarding how they like to learn and at what pace. Thus, some students will respond favorably to one kind of instruction, whereas others will benefit more from a different approach. Educators need to be sensitive to such differences so that instruction and curricular materials will be suitably matched to students&rsquo developing abilities, knowledge base, preferences, and styles. (Annex 6-1 illustrates some of the ways in which curriculum and instruction might be modified to meet the learning needs of high-ability learners.)

Appreciation of differences among learners also has implications for the design of appropriate assessments and evaluations of student learning. Students with different learning styles need a range of opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. For example, some students work well


Note the Sources Cited

When reading a research article, it’s all too easy to focus on the main sections and overlook the references. However, the reference section can actually be one of the most important parts of the paper, especially if you are looking for further sources for your own paper. Spending some time reviewing this section can indicate important research articles on the topic area in which you are interested.

Reading psychology journal articles takes some time and effort, but it is a critical part of the research process. By learning how to approach these articles and knowing what to look for as you skim through them, you will have an easier time selecting sources that are appropriate for your research project or paper.


Watch the video: Ξεκλειδώνοντας τον κόσμο της ανάγνωσης: Δεξιότητα 3η Αναγνωστική Κατανόηση (May 2022).