20+ Effective Learning Strategies For Learner Success (2021)

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Are you an educator craving inspiration on effective learning strategies for your learners’ success? 

You already realize the importance of different learning strategies, and “what are the 5 learning strategies” may have been your Google starting point at first.

Though now you’re wondering: “are there any other strategies I should know about?”

There are. Plenty even!

As an educator, implementing various active learning strategies gives your students the best possible platform to succeed.

This post will show you 24 (!) different examples.

Get ready to learn!

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Effective Learning Strategies

1. Spaced Practice

Remember those long, intense, never-ending classroom sessions? Making you so tired, you couldn’t even remember half of the material?

Educators taught you in the massed practice way, which is the less effective opposite of spaced practice.

Spaced practice means you don’t teach everything in one go, but in bite-sized pieces of study material, over a more extended period of time.

Introduce a new topic, but don’t play it all out in one go. Spread it out over a longer period and return to the subject at intervals. It’s proven to help retain the information much better.

2. Retrieval Practice

Retrieval practice is all about a student’s mental effort. It’s relying on the mind to recall information without the help of any materials.

Textbooks, notes, presentations put it all aside and let their mind bring up anything they know.

Retrieval practice has proven beneficial in developing a stronger memory, increasing the chance of storing the info into long-term memory.

3. Elaboration

Elaboration related to studying involves explaining and describing ideas with many details. It also involves connecting the material to your student’s own experiences.

Elaboration helps better understand and retain study material.

When using elaborative interrogation, students should ask themselves how & why questions and then produce the answers to those questions.

4. Interleaving

Mixing multiple subjects within the same block rather than studying one topic after another (​​e.g., abcbcacab instead of aaabbbccc) is a learning strategy called Interleaving.

The strength of switching between ideas during class lies in the interruption of repetitive behavior.

5. Concrete Examples

You’re probably using this technique already!

Coming up with specific, everyday examples to explain and support abstract ideas is nothing new. It’s essential, though, to make sure your models are relevant and concrete enough not to confuse students even more.

A simple example: Draw a pizza, divided into four equal slices, to explain a quarter.

A smart way to make it even more powerful is to let students bring forward their own examples.

6. Dual Coding

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”  Fred R. Barnard

Our working memory consists of two cognitive workspaces; one processes verbal and the other non-verbal information. By addressing both, you process it twice as strong and store it separately in your long-term memory.

Combining words with representations such as diagrams, charts, and pictures is scientifically proven to make learning the material simpler.

When Allan Paivio came up with the dual-coding theory (1971), he stated that humans better remember concrete information than abstract information.

7. Reciprocal Questioning

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Step down and switch seats!

Reciprocal questioning means that students take on the role of teacher by creating their own questions.

It encourages them to dig deeper into the material, makes them think more critically about the lesson or study material, and helps build a better perception.

8. Three-Step Interviews

The strategy in which students interview each other in small groups on topics provided by the teacher is called the three-step interview.

Divide your students into groups of three:

  • Student A: Interviewer
  • Student B: Interviewee
  • Student C: Reporter taking notes

After each interview, they rotate and switch roles. At the end of the entire session, the students share their recorded information when they were ‘Student C.’

This technique helps students listen actively, apply questioning techniques, and engagingly go through the course material.

9. The Pause Procedure

While it takes up only six or seven minutes of your classroom time, the pause procedure successfully enhances lecture recall.

Implementing strategic pauses (2 to 3-minute breaks) gives students time to review and discuss notes with their peers, summarize the information, and clarify any misconceptions.

A 2014 study showed that students felt that the pause procedure helped them better understand the study material, plus they had time to recharge themselves during long sessions. A win-win!

10. The Muddiest Point Procedure

Developed by Harvard Prof. Mosteller in 1989, the muddiest point procedure is a teaching strategy that focuses on what students found the most unclear or confusing element about a particular lesson.

Ask your students to jot down any muddy points on whatever you as the teacher want feedback on; a lecture, presentation, discussion, or reading assignment. Either to clear the mud immediately or to respond to the input during the next class meeting.

11. The Devil’s Advocate Approach

Playing the devil’s advocate is when you express an opinion you may disagree with, just to make the argument or discussion more interesting.

In this scenario, students deliberately take the opposing side of a predominant argument and provide different perspectives, challenging the group’s assumptions.

The strength of this learning strategy lies in the prevention of group thinking, intensifying discussion and debate. It challenges students to defend their positions with more profound evidence.

12. Peer Teaching Activities

To teach is to learn twice Joseph Joubert

Trying to help others understand the learning material, makes the “teacher” gain more knowledge simultaneously. Thus, peer teaching students teaching other students by design is a two-way reciprocal learning strategy to greatly enhance understanding of the subject.

Activities to consider are reading buddies, cross-age peer tutoring, and think-pair-share.

13. Game-Based Learning Platforms

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According to Psychology Today, a new study has found that video gaming can stimulate the growth of new neurons and connectivity in the brain in specific areas.

Unlike gamification, which uses game elements in a non-gaming context, game-based eLearning focuses on teaching new skills. It provides an opportunity to incorporate active learning, promotes students’ interest, and gives immediate feedback on their performance.

Playing math games is a popular use of game-based learning, as it builds understanding of critical math skills in a playful way.

14. Rotating Chair Group Discussions

The purpose of rotating chair group discussions is to allow students to act both as speakers and listeners. Students will jot ideas down so they can develop those in the space between speaking and listening.

They “rotate” roles, selecting the next speaker.

Rotating chair group ground rules:

  • A student must raise their hand if they would like to participate.
  • The person speaking will call on the next speaker, ideally one who has not yet contributed, or contributed less frequently.
  • The student called on will briefly restate what was said, to then develop the idea further.

15. Self-Explanation

Have you ever asked a student to “explain yourself”?

That is an actual learning strategy.  Self-explanation prompts your learners to generate explanations, forcing them to clarify their thought processes.

Studies have shown that high explainers learned with greater understanding than low explainers.

You can ask students to collaboratively solve problems, explaining their thinking as they go.

Another tactic could be rather than give students a problem to solve, you ask them to explain the solution of a completed problem.

16. Crossover Learning

Taking your history students to the museum is great fun, right? Creating this bridge between formal and informal learning settings is called crossover learning.

Linking your educational content to everyday life experiences is the best teacher of knowledge, as it provides your students with the best of both worlds. Plus, anything a student can learn outside the classroom boosts motivation.

In 2015, the Innovating Pedagogy Report listed crossover learning as one of the ten most prominent educational innovations.

17. Incidental Learning

Think about the times you learned something unintentionally, or unplanned, simply by living life. It’s called incidental learning and happens outside formal teaching environments.

Incidental learning is not led by a teacher, nor does it follow a structured curriculum.

It comes as a perk when performing everyday tasks or activities, such as watching television, reading a newspaper, talking to a friend, or traveling abroad.

18. Context-Based Learning

Try to use real-life and fictional examples where you can, to teach students more practical learning rather than theoretical.

Students need to be able to translate theory into practice so they know how and when to apply what they learned. And that’s where context comes into place.

Great examples of context-based learning are internships or studying abroad.

19. Computational Thinking

Breaking larger problems down into smaller chunks, with the goal to tackle or solve problems easier, is what computational thinking aims at. It’s a tactic used mainly by computer scientists.

It involves decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithm design.

It’s not to make your students computer coders, but to encourage mastering a way of thinking that will enable them to structure problems in such a way that they can solve them more effectively.

It builds confidence in dealing with complexity in everyday life.

20. Learning by Doing Science

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To bust the myth: science is not just white lab coats, test tubes, and microscopes. Science is a way of discovering what’s in the Universe and how things work.

Science is everywhere, and when you teach students science, you teach them life skills. Scientific tools and practices can help us understand ourselves and our world and where we fit in.

Learning by doing science sparks curiosity and curiosity boosts achievement.

As the great Albert Einstein once said: “The important thing is never to stop questioning.”

21. Embodied Learning

Using your body to learn embodied learning  is on the rise in cognitive psychology.

Specific movements and self-awareness of the body with the help of wearables or mobile devices influence cognitive processes, such as understanding, language, and creating memories.

When the mind and body work together, you get immediate feedback, which strengthens the learning process.

Overall it makes learning more fun. For children, it can be as simple as doing math while throwing balls at each other.

Or take Lego building; it stimulates vision and patience, and students come across mathematical skills, fine motor skills, and puzzle-solving.

22. Adaptive Teaching

Most textbooks or educational presentations are not tailored to meet every individual learner’s needs. Not one student is the exact same as the other.  They do, however, all learn from the same book.

Effective? Probably not. This is where adaptive teaching enters the field. It refers to using computer algorithms and AI to deliver customized learning activities for the unique needs of each individual.

Creating a personalized path for each student would be an ideal world, though not always possible. With the help of computers, adapting educational material to students’ needs may be of great help.

23. Analytics of Emotions

Your face says it all”. Ain’t that a well-known truth.

Nowadays, you can use emotion analytics software to capture facial expressions and other characteristics that correlate to specific emotions.

Recognizing students’ emotions and attention may aid in improving their academic performance.

Combine emotion-aware systems with the expertise of human teachers, sense the emotional states of learners, and you’ll be able to provide feedback or intervene in the learning process more effectively.

24. Stealth assessment

Embedding assessments in digital games helps calculate how students are progressing toward targeted goals. These stealth assessments can measure creativity, perseverance, strategic thinking and use the information to support learning.

In digital learning environments, the computer collects stealth information, estimates what your student knows, and continually provides tasks that match the student’s competency.

So What is The Best Learning Strategy?

Gone are the days of strict classroom teaching and learning from a textbook.

The various strategy options to let your students master the material as effectively and interactively as possible are numerous, and there’s simply not one best active learning strategy. They’re all effective in their own way.

Though the one valuable lesson you can already give your students is this: stay curious and never stop asking questions.

Bookmark this post and keep this comprehensive Learning Strategies list close by so that you can go back over it for inspiration on how to best help your learners succeed!