Implications for Practice What do these findings mean for the practitioner?


Implications for Practice
What do these findings mean for the practitioner? Basically, there are three sets
of implications for addressing (a) low-level outcomes, (b) high-level outcomes,
and (c) other kinds of outcomes.
If the intention is to teach for simple retention of accurate detail, then the use
of mnemonics-such as using imagery or linking items to be learned or associated
with keywords-is highly effective. Good teachers have long used such methods:
ROYGBIV, as an acronym for the colors of the rainbow; HOMES, for the five
Great Lakes; or the use of keywords to link associates such as foreign language
meanings or technical terms. When students have to remember procedures, formulas, facts, or lists, such highly directive training ("this is the rule, just follow it")
is sensible and productive. What this does not do, of course, is to involve the
higher-level cognitive processes, and therefore it is suitable only for the quite
specific purpose of facilitating accurate recall, independently of understanding.
If, however, the intention is to help students understand content with a view to
applying it in a new context, then more complex strategies are indicated. First,

needs to be cautious about the word "new." The question is how new. So-called
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Hattie, Biggs, and Purdie
near transfer is very much easier to obtain than far transfer; that is, a strategy
suitable for aiding comprehension, such as finding the main idea in a text passage,
is more likely to be successful when the strategy is applied to content similar to
that in which training in the strategy took place. A very strong implication of this
is that study skills training ought to take place in the teaching of content rather
than in a counseling or remedial center as a general or all-purpose package of
portable skills. The major effect of teaching study skills was relatively minor on
both performance and reported use of study skills but strong on students' attitudes
to their work.
A related point is that strategy training should be taught with understanding of
the conditions under which the strategy works. This, of course, is precisely what
is absent in mnemonic training, which simply involves drilling in "the rule." If
transfer is to take place, the student needs to understand the basis of how the
strategy works, when and under what circumstances it is most appropriate, what
it requires of the learner; to the extent that this conditional knowledge is properly
understood, the strategy may be deployed in contexts "farther" from those in
which it was first learned. As Perkins and Salomon (1989) emphasize

, we do not
get something for nothing; the further the extent of transfer, the more conditional
knowledge and the deeper the content knowledge required.
If improved note taking is the target of intervention, for example, teachers of all
subjects will use content from their own areas. They will recognize that different
tasks will require different approaches to note taking, depending on their curriculum aims. The approach best for taking notes while watching a video about, say,
the life cycle of a frog will be different from the approach best for taking notes
while studying an art history textbook. The one will focus on speed of recording
information and will probably occur at a verbatim level; the other will focus on the
ability to select the most important points and to organize them into a meaningful
structure. The first is an example of working at the unistructural and/or
multistructural levels, whereas in the second example there is opportunity for
students to work at the relational level. In both cases students will need to know
the purpose of their note taking, that is, the conditions under which they will be
required to apply any learning gained from the note taking experience: Are they
preparing for a test next week (essay or multiple-choice?), or an end of year exam,
or an oral presentation to the class?
As to other kinds of outcomes, oddly enough, directly addressing study skills
did not seem particularly fruitful. The desired effect of study skills trainingenhanced performance-is better achieved by addressing performance directly, in
the relational near manner discussed above.
Affect, on the other hand, is much more amenable to change by intervention;
ironically, study skills training is more effective in improving attitudes than in
improving study skills themselves. However, the most striking improvements in
the affective domain came about with attribution training, in which students are
trained to change their attributions for success and failure from maladaptive
(success due to effort, failure to lack of ability) to adaptive ones (success due to
ability, failure to lack of effort). Again, transfer was limited to the extent that
ability is seen as task specific. For example, the reasons attributed to perceived
failure in math may not apply to other content areas. While the implications of
attribution training for teachers in teacher-student interactions are important, this
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Effects of Study Skills Interventions
is not our present concern, which is with interventions over and above the context
of teaching itself.
When the aim is to change students' attributions for success and failure,
teachers should emphasize the importance of systematically using strategies appropriate to the task in hand. The way in which teachers give feedback to students
about their use of strategies will probably influence their attributions for success
or failure more than will feedback regarding either ability or effort. Two studies
in this meta-analysis demonstrated the desirability of providing feedback that
explicitly links improved performance with strategy use (Schunk & Cox, 1986;
Schunk & Gunn, 1986).

 Schunk and Cox suggest that the teacher who tells a
student, "That's good, you're really working hard" (effort attributional feedback),
may not be as effective as the one who links success with appropriate strategy use,
as in "That's correct. You got it right because you applied the steps in the right
In general, then, the thrust of these findings is quite compatible with the thrust
of situated cognition and its implications (J. S. Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989;
Marton, 1988) and with systems theory (Biggs, 1993). That is, improving learning
is less likely to be achieved by targeting the individual in terms of a deficit model,
which presupposes that the individual is lacking the right strategies and needs to
be taught them or is using the wrong strategies and needs to have them removed.
The results of this meta-analysis support the notion of situated cognition, whereby
it is recommended that training other than for simple mnemonic performance
should (a) be in context, (b) use tasks within the same domain as the target content,
(c) and promote a high degree of learner activity and metacognitive awareness.
Strategy training should be seen as a balanced system in which the individual's
abilities, insights, and sense of responsibility are brought into use, so that the
strategies that are appropriate to the task at hand can be used. The student will
need to know what those strategies are,

 of course, and also the conditional
knowledge that empowers them: the how, when, where, and why of their use. In
other words, effective strategy training becomes embedded in the teaching context
itself, a conclusion that has profound implications for future research, development, and application in strategy training.
This analysis, then, returns to the issue of the teaching context itself and points
to the central importance of the interface between interventions involving strategy
and attribution training and the teaching context. We have not been able in the
space available to address that issue adequately, but that is a matter of one thing
at a time. We wished in the present article to determine which interventions appear
to work and under what conditions different kinds of intervention work best. We
have addressed that issue, and the results are clear. To fully explore the relationship between the present results and teaching is quite a different exercise and, at
this stage, probably not a meta-analytic one.

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