Learning strategies are devices employed by learners to assist in the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Instruction should guide the learner in the choice of appropriate learning strategies for particular learning tasks. Facilitating the learning of declarative knowledge, concepts, procedures, principles, problem solving, cognitive, attitudes, and psychomotor skills begins with decisions on what content should be presented, how it should be presented, and in what sequence the instruction should follow (Smith and Ragan, 2005). Ideally, an instructional strategy should be as generative as possible while still offering motivational support for learners.
Micro-Level Instructional Strategies
Lesson (micro)-level instructional strategies should include an Introduction, Body, Conclusion, and Learning Assessment. Because adult learners need to know why they need to learn, strategies that deploy attention, arouse interest and motivation, establish instructional purpose, and provide a preview of the lesson should be included in the Introduction. Strategies that facilitate the recall of prior knowledge, process information, focus attention, facilitate learning, provide practice, and give feedback should be included in the Body. The Conclusion should include a summary and review, strategies to assure the transfer of knowledge, and exemplification of the usability of the new knowledge.
Exemplification is necessary to demonstrate to adult learners how this new knowledge can be applied in their workplace or daily lives. Assessment of performance, feedback and remediation should also be included.
Instructional Approaches for Learning Procedures
A supplantive, expository approach seems to be best for teaching procedures using a straightforward presentation of the procedure with demonstrations of its applications. Learning procedures being grounded in the cognitive theory, the instructional purpose is established by informing learners of the exact procedure to be learned and its applicability.
Because adult learners bring their prior knowledge and experiences into a new learning situation, learners’ interest is aroused by comparing their previous learning experiences to the anticipated new experience. A mnemonic device may be used as a learning strategy to aid learners in recalling the steps of the procedure (declarative learning). Practice involves recalling and performing the steps of the procedure, and feedback should be given on whether the procedure was completed with acceptable precision and efficiency. Summary, remotivation, and transfer should include a review of the applicability of the procedure, and assessment should include a demonstration by the learners of their ability to correctly apply the procedure.
Instructional strategies certainly have their advantages in assisting learners in the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Instructional designers should carefully perform a task analysis, analyze learners, and the analyze the context when designing instruction to make a determination to facilitate the use of strategies with more direct prompting of learning strategies or more direct and complete instruction. If inhibitors to use of strategies are present (learners have low skill in strategy use, learners are not motivated, learners do not recognize the applicability of the strategy, learners lack awareness of their own cognitive capabilities, learners are unaware of the learning task, learners have no prior content knowledge, etc.) the instructional designer may need to develop a technique to improve them or choose strategies with more direct prompting or instruction that is more direct. A continuing goal of the instructional designer is to apply the different types of instructional strategies to best achieve the different types of learning.
Smith, P. L. & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design (3rd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Jossey-Bass Education
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A. Human Resource Development