Conspicuous Strategies

Define the steps students need to use in order to meet your objectives.
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Updated on: November 20, 2000

Conspicuous Strategies

Assess whether instruction is conspicuous. That is, does it communicate clearly and explicitly the steps the learner must employ to perform the strategy and complete the task?

To solve problems, students follow a set of steps or strategies. A strategy is a series of steps students use to achieve a goal. In instruction, it is important that these steps initially be made overt and conspicuous for students. As students learn a strategy, the steps should become more covert. Many students develop their own strategies, but a considerable amount of time may be required for the student to identify the optimum strategy. For students with disabilities and diverse learning needs, such an approach is highly problematic because instructional time is a precious commodity and these learners may never figure out an effective or efficient strategy.

Learning is most efficient when a teacher can make it conspicuous or explicit. In addition, strategies are most effective when they are of medium breadth and generalizable. When applied to a process such as reading comprehension or to a specific skill such as determining the main idea in a paragraph or a story, a conspicuous strategy is the set of steps that leads students to comprehend and identify the main idea effectively and efficiently.

Unfortunately, many students with diverse learning needs are unable to intuit or figure out the relationship of the main idea to the whole paragraph or story before the opportunities for learning have been exhausted. Moreover, the curriculum may not provide the strategic steps necessary for teachers to communicate the process adequately.

Teachers, then, must devise ways to make clear to the students the strategies proficient readers use to

  1. determine whether the main idea is explicitly or implicitly stated,
  2. discriminate most important from less important information,
  3. summarize ideas, and
  4. come to a reasonable conclusion.

Evaluative Questions
Find instructions from an objective identified by your Big Ideas

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