Examples of Cognitive Strategies and Techniques
There are many combinations of strategies and techniques that are influential to cognitive and metacognitive development. The following section will briefly review a few of the techniques that have shown success in classrooms with low achieving and average learners. Higher achieving learners already incorporate strategies into their learning, so the following is a helpful guide for reaching your average and low learners. These techniques are also applicable to both narrative and expository text. Expository text is usually read as if it is unrelated to what a learner already knows or to their purposes of reading (Caverly, Mandville, & Nicholson, 1995). Lower-achieving learners display a limited knowledge of the difference between narrative and expository text, and the lack of this knowledge hinders comprehension (Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001). The following strategies should be used to help the learners become more successful when interacting with text. Strategies should be taught and practiced for a significant amount of times for true transfer to take place (Rhoder, 2002).
Reciprocal teaching is an instructional procedure designed to teach students cognitive strategies to help improve reading comprehension (Rosenshine, & Meister, 1994). There are four strategies that are introduced, modeled and monitored by the teacher for the students, according to Palinscar and Brown (1986). To begin with, students make predictions and hypothesize what the author will discuss next in the text. This leads to question generating, which gives the students the opportunity to evaluate the components of a good question, then phrase their own question, and finally engage in self-testing using questions. Summarizing integrates the information present in the text from passage to passage. Lastly is clarifying, which helps them to reflect back on what was read and look for any difficulties that will interfere with comprehension. The students take turns being the teacher while the teacher becomes the student. As Garner states, “Reciprocal teaching represents an alternative to narrow instruction from bad textbooks” (Garner, 1992, p. 227).
For help with self-questioning, the technique of ReQAR is effective for at-risk learners that combines Reciprocal Questioning (ReQuest) with Question-Answer Relationships (QARs). According to Helfeldt and Henk (1990) there are 4 phases to this technique: 1) strategy information – this is when the teacher explains the what, why and when of the strategy; 2)ReQuest – this is the process of the teacher going sentence by sentence and the students ask questions about the text, while the teacher answers and provides the thinking process for the students to observe. Teacher and students exchange roles of asking and answering questions (reciprocal questioning); 3) QAR – which builds off of the strategy information and ReQuest components and then adds the component of having the students classify the various types of questions into “In the Book” or “In My Head”, which is continually practiced until the students are able to identify them independently (question-answer relationships); and 4) ReQAR – which is the most important stage because within its framework, the question-answer relationships are practiced and reinforced. Flood and Lapp (1990) described the QAR process as a capable way of generating and answering questions that enhance comprehension and will lead to independence. With the added features of ReQAR, students will show an increase awareness of their own metacognitive strategies in the long run (Helfeldt, & Henk, 1990).
The think aloud is a technique that allows the students to verbalize their thoughts as they read which in turn brings forth the strategies that are being used to understand text (Oster, 2001). Davey (1983) breaks the technique into 5 strategies that begins with the teacher and transfers slowly to the learners - 1) make predictions; 2) describe the picture in your head; 3) share an analogy 4) verbalize confusing points; and 5) demonstrate fix-up strategies. This is also a technique that is useful in collaborative groups.