People use different learning strategies, depending upon their background knowledge and how they personally connect to the material. Dr. Rebecca Oxford, a learning strategies expert, defines six broad categories of learning styles. The goal is to help diverse learners implement these strategies to gain a deeper understanding of new information.


When learning a new concept, students must pay attention. This means that educators must create lesson plans that keep students interested and engaged. Filling in notes, doing note checks and stopping to ask questions during a lesson can help students employ this strategy.


Affective strategies relate to the emotional aspect of learning. Is the student self-motivated? What is her attitude toward the subject? The Krathwohl taxonomy argues that the affective domain of learning involves willingness, appreciation, valuing, organizing and characterizing the information. If students feel that what they are learning is not valuable, they will be less motivated to absorb the information.


Students can build a stronger understanding of the subject by interacting with others, either through asking questions or having an informal discussion about the topic with a partner or small group. This strategy allows students to express themselves and to hear peers discuss their understanding of the information, too.

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The three remaining strategies focus on the intellectual aspect of understanding and retaining information. With the memory strategy, educators help students associate the new information with prior knowledge and engage their senses in relation to the information. Visual and auditory teaching methods help students use this strategy.


To use the cognitive strategy, educators have students put into practice what they have learned through summarizing, perhaps with a response journal. Instructors also can provide ways for students to analyze the information, which helps them further understand the concepts. Methods include having students ask questions, either aloud or through a worksheet, and having them provide answers along with their reasons.


Compensation learning strategies assess what students have absorbed by having them use new language to explain what they have learned, such as providing synonyms and analogies. Word association games can help students further understand the new concepts and encourage them to guess word meanings, helping cement the new information.