The Many Legacies of Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein, Part 2 Tribute: Strategic Learning Assessment

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Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein

“If you see a student who finds it as hard as iron to study, it is because his studies are without system.” ~ Talmud, Ta’anit

In Part 1 of our tribute to Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein, we discussed her pioneering work on learning frameworks courses (Hodges & Acee, 2017). In Part 2, we examine Weinstein’s contributions to the development of strategic learning assessments.

Weinstein, senior author of the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI), assesses students’ use of learning strategies related to developing knowledge and skills, generating and sustaining motivation, and intentionally self-regulating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to reach learning goals. Weinstein’s groundbreaking dissertation research on cognitive learning strategies (Weinstein, 1975), and her subsequent work with the U.S. Army and Department of Defense (Weinstein, 1978), helped to show that students’ could be taught to intentionally use learning strategies, and that learning strategies instruction could help students to create more meaningful and retrievable memories about the information they are trying to learn. This line of research led to the development of Weinstein’s Model of Strategic Learning (MSL; see Weinstein & Acee, 2013), which serves as the theoretical foundation of the LASSI.

The MSL highlights many of the factors that research has shown to be causally related to students’ academic success and amendable to change through educational intervention. The MSL organizes these factors under three major components: skill (knowing what to do and how to do it), will (wanting to do it), and self-regulation (actively monitoring and managing the learning process). The MSL emphasizes that students can intentionally use learning strategies related to their skill, will, and self-regulation to increase their chances of success in college and other postsecondary settings. The MSL also includes a fourth component, the academic environment. Although the academic environment is typically not under students’ direct control, it is important for them to develop knowledge about the academic environment (e.g., learning about available resources on campus and their teachers’ expectations) so they can be more strategic.

The LASSI measures students’ use of learning strategies related to their skill, will, and self-regulation, and it is intended for use with students in postsecondary educational and training environments (although other versions of the LASSI have been developed for use with students in high school and online learning environments). The LASSI is widely used across the United States and around the globe by over 3,000 institutions and is published in over 30 languages. The LASSI 3rd Edition has 10 scales and 60 items, 6 items per scale (Weinstein, Acee, & Palmer, 2016a). The LASSI scales include the following: Anxiety, Attitude, Concentration, Information Processing, Motivation, Selecting Main Ideas, Self-Testing, Test Strategies, Time Management, and Using Academic Resources (see Appendix for scale descriptions and example items). The LASSI 3rd Edition Manual (Weinstein, Palmer, & Acee, 2016b) provides information about the extensive development work that helped to establish the reliability and validity of the LASSI, and the procedures used to construct national norms.

Weinstein published the first edition of the LASSI in 1987 to help address increasing enrollments of students in postsecondary educational settings who were underprepared or at-risk of low performance. At that time, there were no strategic learning assessments that measured cognitive, metacognitive, motivation, and affective learning strategies. Weinstein needed such a measurement tool in order to provide students with feedback about their use of learning strategies and to measure their growth over time in response to strategic learning interventions, such as learning frameworks courses. Accordingly, the LASSI can be used to provide informative feedback to students, practitioners, and researchers about (a) students’ baseline status as a strategic learner, (b) which areas related to strategic learning to address in instruction for individual students and the class, or cohort, as a whole, (c) how students’ use of learning strategies changes over time, and (d) the effectiveness of interventions for students.

Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein’s significant contributions to learning strategies research, learning frameworks courses, and strategic learning assessments helped to shape research, policy, and practice in many disciplines, but especially in postsecondary developmental education and learning assistance. Her lasting legacy of student-centered support lives on through the work of her students and colleagues.

Authors

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Taylor Acee, Ph.D.

Dr. Taylor W. Acee is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Developmental Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in educational psychology at The University of Texas and his B.S. in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. His program of research is focused on cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, and affective factors that contribute to and detract from student success in postsecondary education. In his research, Dr. Acee targets variables that are causative, account for a meaningful amount of the variation in student success, and are amendable to change through educational intervention. He is internationally known for his collaborative work on personal relevance interventions, academic boredom, and strategic learning assessments and interventions. His research activities have resulted in over 30 refereed publications, 5 funded research grants totaling over $800,000, and various other scholarly activities.

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Russ Hodges, Ed.D.

Dr. Russ Hodges is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Developmental Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. He earned his Ed.D. in developmental education from Grambling State University and his M.Ed. from University of Louisiana in Monroe. Dr. Hodges’ research focuses on postsecondary student success, postsecondary student success courses, interventions for students diagnosed with AD/HD, and demographic changes in higher education. The learning framework model that he co-developed serves as a curriculum model for many postsecondary learning framework courses throughout Texas and the nation. Dr. Hodges has held state and national leadership positions including president of the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) and chair of the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations (CLADEA). He is an active scholar, having published three books, many journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers along with four research grants totaling just over 1 million dollars. He is also a frequent invited speaker for conferences for postsecondary faculty and staff development.  Dr. Hodges has received many awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Academic Support Programs conference, and outstanding service awards from both CRLA and the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE).  In 2009, Dr. Hodges was named National Fellow for CLADEA—his field’s most prestigious honor. 

References

Hodges, R. & Acee, T. W. (2017, April 26). The many legacies of Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein, part 1 tribute: Learning frameworks courses [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://depco.wp.txstate.edu/

Weinstein, C. E. (1975). Learning of elaboration strategies (Unpublished doctoral dissertation) University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX.

Weinstein, C. E. (1978). Elaboration skills as a learning strategy. In H. F. O’Neil, Jr. (Ed.), Learning strategies (pp. 31-55). New York, NY: Academic Press.

Weinstein, C. E. & Acee, T. W. (2013). Helping college students become more strategic and self-regulated learners. In H. Bembenutty, T. J. Cleary, & A. Kitsantas (Eds.), Applications of self-regulated learning across diverse disciplines: A tribute to Barry J. Zimmerman (pp. 197-236). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Weinstein, C. E., Palmer, D. R., & Acee, T. W. (2016a). Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (3rd ed.). Clearwater, FL: H&H.

Weinstein, C. E., Palmer, D. R., & Acee, T. W. (2016b). LASSI User’s Manual: Learning and Study Strategies Third Edition. Clearwater, FL: H&H.

Appendix

LASSI 3rd Edition Scale Descriptions and Example Items

LASSI Scale Description of Scale Example Item
Anxiety Worry and nervousness about school and academic performance. “I feel very panicky when I take an important test.”
Attitude Attitudes and interest in college and succeeding academically. “I only study the subjects I like.”
Concentration Ability to direct and maintain attention on academic tasks. “My mind wanders a lot when I study.”
Information

Processing

Use of rehearsal, elaboration, and organizational strategies to learn new information. “I try to find relationships between what I am learning and what I already know.”
Motivation Self-discipline and willingness to exert effort and persist in college. “When work is difficult I either give up or study only the easy parts.”
Selecting Main

Ideas

Skill at identifying important information for further study. “I have difficulty identifying the important points in my reading.”
Self-Testing Use of reviewing and comprehension monitoring techniques to assess understanding. “I stop periodically while reading and mentally go over or review what was said.”
Test Strategies Use of strategies to prepare for and take examinations. “I have difficulty adapting my studying to different types of courses.”
Time

Management

Use of time management principles for academic tasks. “I find it hard to stick to a study schedule.”
Using Academic Resources Strategic use of academic resources commonly available at postsecondary institutions. “I am not comfortable asking for help from instructors in my courses.”

Note. The scale descriptions were adapted from Weinstein, Palmer, & Acee (2016b), with permission.

 

The Many Legacies of Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein, Part 1 Tribute: Learning Frameworks Courses

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Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein

“Much have I learned from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but most from my students.” ~Talmud, Ta’anit 7b

Dr. Claire Ellen Weinstein was Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Weinstein is renowned for groundbreaking research on learning strategies, her Model of Strategic Learning, and as senior author of the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory. Dr. Weinstein’s research and practice in strategic learning has helped to define strategic learning courses, curriculum, and instruction across the U.S. and abroad, and especially in Texas; her legacy lives on in her many students and her students’ students. Of particular interest for this tribute (Part 1) is her college-level, 3-credit, learning frameworks course, Individual Learning Skills (EDP 310), offered through the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin since 1975.

EDP 310 is designed to help students learn how to learn. The course enrolls students of all levels, but especially those who enter the university under special circumstances or who experience academic difficulty. Course content is driven by Weinstein’s Model of Strategic Learning, inspired by systems theory and Gestalt psychology, which emphasizes that strategic learning emerges from the interactions among elements within four major components: skill, will, self-regulation, and the academic environment.  Weinstein attributes many of her ideas about strategic learning to one of her mentors, Wilbert J. McKeachie, and his research at the University of Michigan on strategic teaching (Weinstein, 1994; Weinstein, Acee, Jung, Krause, Dacy, & Leach, 2012).

In 1999, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board authorized formula funding of up to three credit hours for courses following a learning frameworks curriculum, which must include, “…1) research and theory in the psychology of learning, cognition, and motivation, 2) factors that impact learning, and 3) application of learning strategies” (Hill, 2000, para. 4). The policy change was a result of two learning framework course studies, one from the University of Texas at Austin (based on EDP 310—Individual Learning Skills) and the other from Texas State University (based on EDP 1350—Effective Learning), which presented statistically significant improved student retention and graduation rates for students successfully completing multiple sections of these learning frameworks courses as compared to other students not enrolled (Hill, 2000).

Learning frameworks courses provide instruction on learning strategy applications and inform students of theoretical frameworks that underpin each strategy drawing from educational neuroscience, metacognition, behaviorism, and constructivism—among many others. Most “study skills” courses teach students specific techniques and methods in isolation, such as content mapping, comprehension monitoring, and textbook annotation, focusing on acquisition of a skill but not comprehensive understanding of why and how learning can be enhanced by using that technique. Learning frameworks courses help students to assess their own learning strengths and weaknesses so that, once introduced to theories and strategies, students can understand the reasons for engaging in specific studying behaviors. Practicing learning strategies with their other course content is essential for the transfer of this knowledge (Hodges & Agee, 2009; Hodges, Sellers, & Dochen, 2012).

While learning frameworks courses are offered throughout U.S. postsecondary institutions, Texas has been at the forefront; approximately 90% of 2-year institutions and 75% of 4-year institutions offer multiple sections of these courses. Many of Texas’s 2-year institutions now require all first-year students to enroll in the course while 4-year institutions more typically offer the course to special populations such as conditionally-admitted students or students on academic probation. High schools are also now beginning to offer learning frameworks courses as dual-credit courses (Acee & Hodges, 2017).

Dr. Weinstein was a pioneer in postsecondary access and success; she knew that every student could learn, and she dedicated her life to that end.  Learning frameworks courses are one of her many legacies. We honor her memory as we continue to expand the reach and effectiveness of these courses and help students to become more strategic and self-regulated lifelong learners.

Authors

russhodges

Russ Hodges, Ed.D.

Dr. Russ Hodges is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Developmental Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. He earned his Ed.D. in developmental education from Grambling State University and his M.Ed. from University of Louisiana in Monroe. Dr. Hodges’ research focuses on postsecondary student success, postsecondary student success courses, interventions for students diagnosed with AD/HD, and demographic changes in higher education. The learning framework model that he co-developed serves as a curriculum model for many postsecondary learning framework courses throughout Texas and the nation. Dr. Hodges has held state and national leadership positions including president of the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) and chair of the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations (CLADEA). He is an active scholar, having published three books, many journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers along with four research grants totaling just over 1 million dollars. He is also a frequent invited speaker for conferences for postsecondary faculty and staff development.  Dr. Hodges has received many awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Academic Support Programs conference, and outstanding service awards from both CRLA and the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE).  In 2009, Dr. Hodges was named National Fellow for CLADEA—his field’s most prestigious honor. 

tayloracee (1)

Taylor Acee, Ph.D.

Dr. Taylor W. Acee is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Developmental Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in educational psychology at The University of Texas and his B.S. in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. His program of research is focused on cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, and affective factors that contribute to and detract from student success in postsecondary education. In his research, Dr. Acee targets variables that are causative, account for a meaningful amount of the variation in student success, and are amendable to change through educational intervention. He is internationally known for his collaborative work on personal relevance interventions, academic boredom, and strategic learning assessments and interventions. His research activities have resulted in over 30 refereed publications, 5 funded research grants totaling over $800,000, and various other scholarly activities.

References

Acee, T. W., & Hodges, R. (2017). [Learning framework courses in Texas]. Unpublished raw data.

Hill, M. A. (2000, March 31). Funding for “Learning Framework” courses [Memorandum to Chief Academic Officers, Public Senior Universities]. Austin, TX: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Hill, M. A. (2000, March 31). Funding for “Learning Framework” courses [Memorandum to Chief Academic Officers, Public Senior Universities]. Austin, TX: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Hodges, R., & Agee, K. (2009). Program management. In R. F. Flippo &  D. C. Caverly (Eds.), Handbook of college reading and study strategy research (pp. 351-378). New York: Routledge.

Hodges, R., Sellers, D., & Dochen, C. W. (2012). Implementing a learning framework course. In R. Hodges, M. L. Simpson, & N. A. Stahl (Eds.), Teaching study strategies in developmental education: Readings on theory, research and best practice (pp. 314-325). Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martin’s.

Weinstein, C. E., Acee, T. W., Jung, J., Krause, J. M., Dacy, B. S., & Leach, J. K. (2012). Strategic learning: Helping students become more active participants in their learning. In K. Agee & R. Hodges (Eds.), Handbook for training peer tutors and mentors (pp. 30-34). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.