In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Learning Strategies

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Use of Learning Strategies
  • Relationship between Learning Strategies and Academic Performance
  • Relationship between Self-Efficacy and Learning Strategies
  • Motivation, Learning Strategies, and Academic Achievement
  • Studies on Metacognition
  • Academic Performance, Learning Strategies, and Other Factors

Education Learning Strategies
Michael C. W. Yip
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 April 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0211


“Learning strategies” is a generic term that normally refers to the cognitive processes of learners in learning. Learning strategies comprise a variety of learning behaviors of learners or students; for example, notetaking, organizing information, time scheduling, concentration capacity, self-motivation, and ways of memorizing information. Students will make use of the different learning strategies in their studies in order to attain a certain level of academic achievement. There are two types of learning strategies: basic and advanced learning strategies. Basic learning strategies are those lower-level cognitive abilities used by younger children in school, usually below the age of six, for example, rote memorization and simple elaboration. When the students grow older and the brain development becomes more mature, the advanced learning strategies will eventually be developed and used; such advanced learning strategies include organization of information, evaluation of information, use of external study aids, etc. Those advanced learning strategies developed and used by adolescent students can be described by the concept of metacognition. Metacognition or metacognitive thinking involves three issues: (1) metacognitive knowledge, or our knowledge about knowledge; (2) metacognitive skills, or our currently used learning strategies doings; and (3) metacognitive experiences, or our current experiences of knowing. Scholars further conclude that student learning would be more effective and efficient if students could engage themselves in this kind of metacognitive thinking when they learn. The development of metacognition and the transformation from basic to advanced learning strategies naturally coincide with the different learning phases of the learners.

General Overviews

Caballos and Esteban 1988 (cited under Use of Learning Strategies) and Erdamar 2011 (cited under Academic Performance, Learning Strategies, and Other Factors) have shown that academically high-achieving students will use a wider variety of learning strategies than lower-achieving students when learning in class and studying at home; therefore, knowledge of the different learning strategies (in particular, the advanced learning strategies) used by students is vital in differentiating and predicting their academic performance. This conclusion was also supported by Akyol, et al. 2010; Diseth 2011; and Reaser, et al. 2007 (all cited under Use of Learning Strategies). On this issue, the authors of Weinstein 1988 (cited under Use of Learning Strategies) and Yip 2012 (cited under Relationship between Self-Efficacy and Learning Strategies) embarked on several important studies linking up the metacognition and academic performance of students since the beginning of the 21st century. Based on the metacognitive thinking processes, Weinstein 1988 developed a theoretical learning model to explain students’ academic performance and linked them up with the learning strategies the students used (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory, or LASSI). The learning model consists of three interrelated learning constructs: will, self-regulation, and skill. The will component evaluates students’ perception of self-efficacy, including the ability to maintain motivation and sustain a positive attitude toward their learning. The self-regulation component evaluates students’ self-regulated skills such as time management, self-testing strategies, and concentration. The skill component evaluates students’ ability to use different cognitive strategies effectively in their learning. These three constructs complement each other in the learning process of the learner. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the model has been proven applicable to different countries with different cultural backgrounds; for example, in Albaili 1997 (cited under Use of Learning Strategies), Diseth and Martinsen 2003 (cited under Use of Learning Strategies), Garg 2011 (cited under Academic Performance, Learning Strategies, and Other Factors), and Yip 2012 (cited under Relationship between Self-Efficacy and Learning Strategies). Within the three core learning constructs, there are a number of specific learning strategies commonly used by students. They are as follows: anxiety, attitude, motivation, concentration, self-testing, time management, study aids, information processing, selecting main ideas, and test strategies. Another important element related to learning strategies and academic performance is self-efficacy of students. Bandura 1997 (cited under Textbooks) proposed that self-efficacy is the belief in one’s own capacity to handle the challenges of situations. Bandura 1993 and Schunk and Gunn 1986 (both cited under Relationship between Self-Efficacy and Learning Strategies) observed that students’ self-efficacy was greatly affected by the continuing feedback they received from their concurrent academic performance and their own attributions and interpretations of that feedback. Therefore, there is a possible linkage between self-efficacy and the learning strategies students used. Variations in students’ self-efficacy are dependent on the resultant outcomes of their academic performance mediated by the feedback; in turn, the academic performance of students can be predicted by their use of learning strategies. Hence, the loop connecting students’ academic performance, self-efficacy, and the learning strategies they use is a critical element underlying student learning. Unpacking this loop will be an important line of research in the area.

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