A look at the model
Metacognition: The key
Anxiety reduction tips
The research basis for
the strategies, tips, and techniques presented
Frequently asked questions
Often subjects or concepts may be difficult or frustrating when you have
little knowledge or experience, or have had previous problems understanding
new information. Acquisition is gaining an understanding of the new information
being learned. New information typically will be from the textbook, homework,
activities, or presentations. Strategies for success in acquisition of
new information include study-reading, note-making, and/or connecting
new information to previous base of knowledge (constructivism).
Strategies (numbered, but not sequential):
Pick one or more that you wish to implement and assess any effects.
- Effectiveness in acquiring new information can depend on the similarity
of background and experience you have (readiness for the information).
Some strategies to help prepare yourself to be more ready for the new
Assess your knowledge base in this area and work to fill any gaps,
add background information, and feel more able to understand how the
new information to be learned will fit into your current knowledge framework.
Identify depth of learning you are striving for. (Is it a required
course not in your field, a foundational course in your field that others
will build on, or part of a sequence you need to complete?)
Identify information support systems for acquisition of new information
for the course(s) you want to focus on.
- pre-read material before a lecture
- read the preface in a book or the introduction to a chapter
- identify and review supplemental instructional resources available
(e.g., CDs/DVDs, web resources, practice tests)
Acquiring new knowledge involves time with the new information to
understand it and a context for it. Understanding where and how to fit
the new information into a contextual framework can make learning it
easier and less frustrating. Try to anticipate how and where the new
information fits and how you will be able to apply and use it.
Use study-reading techniques (i.e., SQ3R below, SQ4r, PREP) to learn
the new information. Study-reading techniques usually include some or
more than the following steps:
- instructor's office hours (or grad assistants)
- tutoring (formal or informal):
First check with your Learning
Support Center for free tutoring options i.e., drop-in, study
groups, appointment, supplemental instruction, or online tutoring
You can also check campus bulletin boards or publications or even
advertise for help (be sure it is someone who knows the content and
can present strategies for success).
- set-up a study group of peers from the class (peer study groups
of three to five can be very effective in making learning easier for
all--maybe meet before or after class, or on "off" days)
- mentor (an expert in it who can explain it and make it easier to
- Survey or preview the
material to be read, setting a purpose and context for the new information.
- Identify or anticipate Questions
to be answered as you read.
- Read each chunk (a paragraph
or other logical chunk information) and identify at least one question
and answer for that chunk. (Note: In concept dense subject matter,
each chunk may contain and need multiple questions and answers).
- Recite and mark or write
the questions and answer within each chunk.
- As you complete each chapter or section assigned, Review
your questions and answers and make sure they are connected and
Study-reading is a slower process than simply reading the material,
but it can be effective in helping you to identify new information,
set a purpose and context to connect it to your own knowledge and
experience, and practice it in context while learning it.
In addition to study-reading, another powerful technique for learning
and understanding new information is what we will call "Note-making"
(Christ, SRSEII), instead of note-taking, because when you make notes,
you organize information to be able to understand the new information
in its context. If you take good notes that allow you to identify the
new information and its relationships to the other information presented,
then skip this one. If not, following are some tips to help you be more
effective in Note-making:
Use your textbook effectively. Many of today's texts have glossaries,
help, tips, margin notes, intros, summaries, practice questions, or
applications. In addition, many come with CDs, DVDs, or websites for
practice or assistance. Identify and use textbook helps appropriate
for you in this subject.
- Use ink for a higher contrast with the paper, to make it easier
to see and read (pencil can smudge).
- Leave lots of space that may be needed later in case additional
info is given or you choose to fill in additional notes later.
- Leave a wider margin at the left (maybe twice what is there).
The expanded left margin space is where you will add margin notes
of key words or phrases that describe what that section of notes
- Make notes in an outline or concept mapping format (whichever
works for you), but make sure you can see the relationship of ideas
to one another.
- After each session, take a few minutes to finish
filling in your notes as soon as possible after a class. Use this
time to also identify key words or ideas in the margin (if not already
done) to provide a cue to the information in that section.
- Review your notes before starting the homework or the reading
assigned. Make notes about any connections or relationships you
Plan extra time for the study-reading and notemaking activities. Give
yourself the time needed to learn successfully. Use your daily study
time (#13 under motivation) to assess your study
needs, review your notes, and do your study-reading.
Assess any areas of concern, identify additional resources needed,
and decide how and when you will use them. (You might contact the Learning
Support Center for a list of drop-in times for a tutor in this subject.
- Do not be afraid to write in your textbooks. Add notes of your
own in the margins or highlight any appropriate notes provided by
authors in your textbooks.
- You can add information from the textbook, websites, CDs, or DVDs
into your notes or make vocabulary cards.
Acquisition can be the key to enable retention, and performance. Try
one or more strategies above. As you become comfortable with one or more,
feel free to try any others from above that seem logical and usable.