Eight learning strategies that will set your students up for success

Young female student studying on a computer in a classroom.

Published: November 18th, 2022

It’s no secret that, to be successful in education, students need to have a solid foundation of knowledge and skills. But many teachers want to do more for their students than just help them pass exams. What if there were ways for students to go beyond just the basics of a given subject and become truly successful learners? That’s where academic strategies for students come in. There are several effective study strategies that can help students achieve success in their academic careers and beyond. 

We list eight examples of learning strategies below and provide tips on implementing them in your classroom to help your students become more successful learners.

What is a learning strategy?

A learning strategy is a tool that students can use to help them learn and retain information. There are many different types of learning strategies that students can use, depending on their needs and preferences. By using a variety of strategies, students can develop a well-rounded approach to learning that will help them achieve their academic goals.

Eight learning and teaching strategies

1. Spaced practice

One of the best learning methods is spaced practice. This involves spacing out learning over time rather than cramming all the information in at once. It’s great for learning in the classroom and can also be used at home as one of the student’s study strategies.

Reviewing learning materials over time gives your brain time to process and remember the information and make connections between new and old concepts. Spaced practice helps students retain information in their long-term memories rather than their short-term memories (which is often the case when students ‘cram’ for a test).  

Here are a few tips on how to implement spaced practice in your classroom:

  1. Assign homework that reviews previously learned material.
  2. Plan review sessions throughout the year (not just in the lead-up to a test or assignment).
  3. Don’t review all learning materials in one go – space them out based on the topic.
  4. Mix old material with new material – as the student is recalling old information, it’s an opportunity for them to incorporate it into any new concepts they’ve learned since.
  5. Provide checklists and summaries to jog students’ memories.
  6. Repeat the same material on different days to help students commit it to long-term memory.

2. Elaboration and elaborative interrogation

Elaboration is the cognitive process of adding new information to what you already know to understand it better. This can involve linking new information to prior knowledge, adding detail to help make the information more meaningful, or creating a mental image to help visualise the concept being learned. 

Elaborative interrogation is a technique that you can use to promote elaboration. It involves asking questions about a topic to encourage deeper thinking and understanding. This strategy has been shown to be a particularly effective learning method for recalling factual information

Asking questions is one of the most effective learning methods because it helps students clarify new information and create mental links that can aid in later retrieval. When using elaborative interrogation, it’s important to ask questions relevant to the task at hand, which cannot be easily answered by simply restating the given information. Questions requiring analysis and interpretation will likely lead to deeper understanding and better recall.

For example, if you are trying to learn more about the Gold Rush, an educator might use elaborative interrogation to encourage you to consider the different reasons why the Gold Rush began. By asking questions and encouraging elaboration, we can promote active learning and improve our understanding of complex topics.

Here are a few tips on how to integrate elaboration and elaborative interrogation into your classroom:

  1. Connect new information with what students already know about the topic.
  2. Ask students to explain new concepts in their own words.
  3. Use elaborative interrogation by asking “why” questions.
  4. Draw diagrams or charts to illustrate how new information connects with prior knowledge.
  5. Have students compare and contrast new information with what they already know. As students learn new concepts, ask them to make connections between multiple ideas and explain how they work together. Ask them to think about the similarities and differences between two concepts.
  6. Ask students questions that require them to use prior knowledge to solve problems or answer questions.
  7. Use analogies and metaphors to help students understand new concepts.
  8. Ask students to describe how the ideas they’re studying apply to their life experiences or memories. 

3. Visualisation

Visualisation refers to the practice of creating a mental image of information read or heard. Visualisation is used to improve reading and comprehension. It can be useful for both fiction texts, to help students get a better sense of the characters and plot, and non-fiction texts, where it can be used to better comprehend concepts and ideas. Research shows that students who use visualisation have better recall and a deeper comprehension of the text.

Here are a few tips on how to help your students visualise information:

  1. Draw diagrams or charts to illustrate important concepts.
  2. Use images and multimedia to help students visualise information.
  3. Have students visually connect concepts and ideas using mind mapping.
  4. Use technology, such as an Interactive Display, to make the most of digital visualisation tools, such as mind-mapping, images, video, and infographics.
  5. Practice visualising with students by asking them to close their eyes and picture a scene as you describe it.
  6. When students are writing, have them visualise their setting and remind them to use descriptive words to create a vivid picture.

4. Feedback

Research shows that giving feedback is an effective strategy for improving student achievement. Feedback can come from teachers, classmates, parents, or others in the student’s life.

When students receive feedback, it allows them to see how they’re performing and identify areas where they need to improve. It can also draw the teacher’s attention to areas in which the student is struggling, enabling them to adapt their teaching strategies accordingly. 

Here are a few tips on how to give feedback effectively:

  1. Give feedback that is specific and relevant to the task at hand.
  2. Avoid giving criticism that is vague or general.
  3. Critique ideas, not people.
  4. Be clear about what you expect from the student. Make sure goals are clearly understood.
  5. Encourage students to ask questions if they need help understanding something.
  6. Help students understand how they can improve their performance. Provide information on how to do a task more effectively.
  7. Allow students to respond to feedback before moving on to the next task.
  8. Thank students for their efforts, no matter how successful or unsuccessful.
  9. Give positive feedback, as well as constructive criticism. 
  10. Ask students to self-assess their efforts as part of the process.

5. Concrete examples

When students are given specific examples to understand abstract ideas, it helps them connect the new information with things they already know. It’s one of the best learning techniques because it makes the learning process much easier and more efficient. Abstract ideas can be hard to grasp, but connecting them to specific examples can help to illustrate the concept and solidify it in the student’s mind. 

Here are a few tips on how to use specific examples in your classroom:

  1. Provide concrete examples to illustrate abstract concepts.
  2. Ask students to explain concepts using examples.
  3. Encourage students to search classroom materials for additional examples.
  4. Encourage students to look for examples around them as they go about their day.

6. Retrieval practice

Retrieval practice is a learning strategy that involves recalling information from memory. Rather than focusing on putting the information into the student’s head (encoding), this strategy focuses on retrieving that information from the student’s memory. 

When students practice retrieving information, it helps them better understand and remember it. Just like practising an instrument, retrieval practice allows students to use (i.e., practice) the knowledge they’ve acquired. Retrieval practice can be difficult, but the mental struggle strengthens the student’s learning

Here are a few tips on how to use retrieval practice in your classroom: 

  1. At the start of class, ask students to retrieve what was done in class last week.
  2. Ask students to write down everything they can remember from a previous lesson (i.e., a “brain dump”).
  3. At the end of class, ask students to retrieve two things they learned.

7. Gamification

Gamification is the application of game-based elements, such as point scoring, competition, and rules of play, to non-game activities, such as classroom learning. 

Play is an integral part of a child’s early development and can help them learn and grow in various ways, but even as students grow older, there are still many benefits to play and game-based learning. Gamification has been shown to increase motivation and improve the retention of knowledge

When students play games, they use their imagination and creativity to explore the world around them. This allows them to learn in a fun and interactive way. Games can help students develop their problem-solving skills, learn new skills and concepts, and build social skills and relationships. 

Some ways to incorporate games and play-based learning strategies into the classroom are:

  1. Introducing educational games, such as board games, video games, puzzles, debates, quizzes, or trivia games.
  2. Using technology, such as Promethean’s Interactive Display, to access educational games and apps, such as online quizzes and polls, video games, and more.
  3. Taking learning outside the classroom. For example, holding a biology lesson outside so students can identify birds, plants, and insects they’re learning about. 
  4. Encouraging students to visualise through imaginative play. For example, when learning about different cultures, set up the classroom with items from different countries, including lots of photos and props. 

8. Inquiry-based teaching

Inquiry-based learning is a constructivist approach to teaching that encourages students to ask questions and find their own answers. It focuses on investigation and problem-solving and is a hands-on approach that allows students to explore and experiment with new ideas. In other words, it allows students to ‘construct’ their own understanding of the material and could be considered a ‘learning to learn’ strategy.

With inquiry-based learning, students can explore a topic in depth, seek answers to their questions via research, draw connections between pre-existing knowledge and new knowledge, and come to their own conclusions. Inquiry-based teaching is beneficial for students because it promotes independent thinking.

There are several ways you can implement inquiry-based teaching in your classroom, such as:

  1. Providing opportunities for students to ask questions.
  2. Encouraging students to work together.
  3. Setting up challenges or tasks for students to complete.
  4. Allowing time for students to explore and experiment with new ideas.
  5. Asking students questions to check for understanding.
  6. Encouraging students to explain their thinking process out loud.
  7. Allowing students to discover concepts for themselves through exploration and hands-on learning.
  8. Letting students take the lead in problem-solving.
  9. Encouraging students to share their prior knowledge before explaining a concept or setting up a project.

Use these learning strategies to better equip your students for education and beyond

There are a variety of student learning strategies that educators can use to promote student learning. The eight strategies listed are just a few examples of effective learning techniques to engage students in the classroom and encourage them to reach their full potential. Try incorporating some of these learning techniques for students into your next lesson plan and see how they impact your students’ engagement and achievement. 

And if you’re looking for innovative ways to introduce learning strategies into the classroom, why not explore an Interactive Display or cloud-based teaching software? Technology can provide great support and access to amazing digital resources for teachers wanting to enhance their teaching approach. Get in touch for a demo.  

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