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Lost Leaf

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What is Cognitive Strategy
Cognitive strategy instruction (CSI) is an explicit instructional approach that teaches students specific and general cognitive strategies to improve learning and perfor- mance by facilitating information processing. CSI embeds metacognitive or self-regulation strategies in structured cognitive routines that help students monitor and evalu- ate their comprehension. The ability to identify and utilize effective strategies is a necessary skill for academic success.
Many students, especially students with learning disabilities
(LD), are ineffective and inefficient strategic learners. CSI enables students to become strategic and self-regulated learners (Dole,
Nokes, & Drits, 2009; Pressley, Woloshyn, Lysynchuk, Martin,
Wood, & Willoughby, 1990). Using proven procedures associated with explicit instruction including process modeling, verbal rehearsal, scaffolded instruction, guided and distributed practice, and self-monitoring, students learn, apply, and internalize a cognitive routine and develop the ability to use it automatically and flexibly (Montague & Dietz, 2009). The metacognitive component of CSI helps students focus on the task and regulate and monitor their performance (Palincsar & Brown, 1984).
Instruction in self-regulation strategies promotes strategy maintenance and generalization. Although CSI has been applied to a variety of academic tasks, this Current Practice Alert will highlight its applications in comprehending expository text, writing opinion essays, and solving math word problems. Regardless of the domain in which
CSI is used, the approach follows a consistent format: Teachers
(a) develop and activate background knowledge of students, (b) describe and discuss the strategy, (c) model application of the strategy, (d) have students memorize the strategy, (e) support students’ use of the strategy, and (f) move students toward independent use of the strategy (Harris, Graham, Brindle, &
Sandmel, 2009). The theoretical underpinnings of CSI are rooted in both cognitive and behavioral theories of learning. Cognitive behavior modification, as described by Meichenbaum (1977), influenced the stages utilized in the CSI approach and the use of self-talk to change behavior. Social development theory
(Vygotsky, 1978) supported purposeful teacher-student interactions and the use of modeling that demonstrates how individuals think and behave as they engage in academic tasks.
For Whom is CSI Intended? Much of the research on CSI has focused on students with LD, but studies also have demonstrated its effectiveness for students with other disabilities such as spina bifida (Coughlin & Montague,
2010) and Asperger’s Syndrome (Whitby, 2009). Additionally, research has determined that CSI can benefit many students with- out disabilities who struggle academically (e.g., Harris, Graham,
& Mason, 2006; Montague, Enders, & Dietz, 2011b). CSI can facilitate both simple and complex tasks for learners and, thus, is appropriate for a variety of tasks across age groups. As noted, an important component of CSI instruction is teaching students self- regulation strategies. Although these strategies begin developing when children are young, they typically mature sometime during adolescence and early adulthood (Kass & Maddux, 2005; Smith,
2004). Consequently, various applications of CSI have been implemented effectively with students in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary settings (Wong, Harris, Graham, & Butler,
2003). CSI also seems to have an impact on students’ self-efficacy, motivation, and attitude toward learning.
How Adequate is the
Research Knowledge Base? For more than three decades, CSI has been used across academic domains and tasks with students of varying age and ability groups and has consistently shown its positive effects on student learning.
A meta-analysis reviewing 30 years of intervention research with students with LD identified CSI and direct instruction as the two most effective instructional approaches for students with LD
(Swanson, Hoskyn, & Lee, 1999). These two approaches have many common instructional procedures such as modeling, cueing and prompting, corrective and positive feedback, controlling task difficulty, sequencing instruction, and directed questioning.
School-based research repeatedly has established the effectiveness of CSI. For example, the University of Kansas Center for
Research on Learning developed and researched numerous learning strategies to enhance content learning for adolescents with LD
(for a review, see Schumaker & Deshler, 2003). The teaching method for CSI is explicit instruction, which incorporates validated instructional practices (Swanson et al., 1999) and utilizes a highly interactive, sequenced approach consisting of guided instruction and practice leading to internalization of the strategic routine and independent performance of the task over time. CSI also explicitly incorporates components addressing students’ motivation, self-efficacy, and attitudes. The content of the strategic routine varies according to the academic domain or task. To illustrate application of CSI with students with LD, we use three tasks: (a) comprehending expository text (Klingner,
Vaughn, Arguelles, Hughes, & Leftwich, 2004), (b) writing an opinion essay (Harris & Graham, 2009), and (c) solving math word problems (Montague, Enders, & Dietz, 2011a). For research reviews of the CSI interventions across these three academic domains and tasks, see Jitendra, Burgess, and Gajria, 2011;
Harris and Graham, 2009; and Montague and Dietz, 2009. It is important to remember that students differ considerably in ability, achievement, motivation, interest, and other characteristics that may facilitate or impede learning. Therefore, it is important to tailor CSI to meet the strengths and needs of individual children.
What is Content Enhancement? Content Enhancement is an instructional method that relies on using powerful teaching devices to organize and present curriculum content in an understandable and easy-to-learn manner. Content Enhancement is about creating 'barrier-free education' based on key principles, organized planning, specific routines, and strategic teaching methods.

Why use Content Enhancement Routines? Content Enhancement Routines are used by teachers to teach curriculum content to academically diverse classes in ways that all students can understand and remember key information. Teachers identify content that they deem to be most critical and teach it using a powerfully designed teaching routine that actively engages students with the content.Content Enhancement Routines and Devices Content Enhancement routines are delivered by the teacher in a regular class setting and involve strategic teaching practices using specific devices developed to prompt specific outcomes. These routines can be grouped into four categories 1. Planning and Leading Learning 2. Explaining Text, Topics, Details, and Terms 3. Teaching Concepts 4. Increasing Performance Information on the specific devices, as well as examples and frames is available in the column to the left of this information.

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