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.

 

Self-Regulation and Students with Mental Illness

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Ren VanderLind

Ren VanderLind is a doctoral student at Texas State University studying Developmental Literacy. Her research interests are currently focused on the issues facing college students with mental illness, particularly in terms of resilience, stigmatization, and identity development. She currently works as the Graduate Coordinator in the Texas State University Writing Center. Questions or comments can be directed to Ren at ren.vanderlind@txstate.edu.

College student mental health has been shown to relate to lack of academic success, persistence, and degree completion (Breslau, Lane, Sampson, & Kessler, 2008; Cranford, Eisenberg, & Serras, 2009; Elion, Wang, Slaney, & French, 2012; Keyes, Eisenberg, Perry, Dube, Kroenke, & Dhingra, 2012; Thompson, Connely, Thomas-Jones, & Eggert, 2013).  Research has also demonstrated how students reporting mental health concerns may benefit from development of self-regulatory skills (Van Nguyen, Laohasiriwong, Saengsuwan, Thinkhamrop, & Wright, 2015).

When working to support the needs of students with mental illness, one might feel pressured to have all the answers; on the contrary, there is no one solution for supporting the needs of college students with mental illness as symptoms and necessary supports are rather diverse.  One promising practice for increasing the success of college students with mental illness is teaching self-regulatory skills alongside explicit instruction in how to apply these skills outside the classroom.

By teaching self-regulatory processes, one can provide support to students with mental illness without requiring that they self-disclose their diagnoses or that you specialize your instruction; development of self-regulatory skills is beneficial for all students.  To accomplish this, ask students to monitor their behaviors and the efficacy of them as well as how they might go back and revise their approach for a better outcome.  Then make explicit how this can apply to their academic pursuits as well as their personal lives.  Show students how using self-regulation can benefit them when they are struggling outside the classroom, such as in instances in which they need to seek help.

Developing metacognitive and self-regulatory skills will benefit this population immensely, as building self-awareness is a large component of managing mental illness symptoms.  If you can help students grow in self-awareness, you can help them become more in tune with their personal and academic needs.  It may seem like a small step, but teaching these skills to your students can help those who have diagnosed mental illnesses persist through the course, semester, and academic career.

References

Breslau, N., Lane, M., Sampson, N., & Kessler, R. C. (2008). Mental health disorders and subsequent educational attainment in a US national sample. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 42, 708-716.

Cranford, J. A., Eisenberg, D., & Serras, A. M. (2009). Substance use behaviors, mental health problems, and use of mental health services in a probability sample of college students. Addictive Behaviors, 34, 134-145. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2008.09.004

Elion, A. A., Wang, K. T., Slaney, R. B., & French, B. H. (2012). Perfectionism in African American students: Relationship to racial identity, GPA, self-esteem, and depression. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18(2), 118-127.

Keyes, C. L. M., Eisenberg, D., Perry, G. S., Dube, S. R., Kroenke, K., & Dhingra, S. S. (2012). The relationship of level of positive mental health with current mental disorders in predicting suicidal behavior and academic impairment in college students. Journal of American College Health, 60(2), 126-133.

Thompson, E. A., Connelly, C. D., Thomas-Jones, D., & Eggert, L. L. (2013). School difficulties and co-occurring health risk factors: Substance use, aggression, depression, and suicidal behaviors. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 26, 74-84.

Van Nguyen, H., Laohasiriwong, W., Saengsuwan, J., Thinkhamrop, B., & Wright, P. (2015). The relationships between the use of self-regulated learning strategies and depression among medical students: An accelerated prospective cohort study. Psychology, Health, & Medicine, 20(1), 59-70.