Choosing Learning Strategies

Matching learning goals with the appropriate learning strategies for powerful learning and personal empowerment.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Knowing common types of learning challenges (questions, problems, issues, perspectives and self-development) and matching them with appropriate learning strategies (developing answers, solutions, positions, expressions, and well-being) can boost learning effectiveness and efficiency and increase students' lifelong learning capacity and empowerment.

Method Components

After identifying a learning goal, the educator supports students as they choose the appropriate learning strategy. This process can be conducted individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction. These strategies can be deployed as a stand-alone activity or as part of a lesson.

Five common categories of learning strategies

  • Inquiry: Finding answers to questions
    • Crafting good research questions
    • Using productive researching methods
    • Idea mapping
    • For additional examples, see the Crafting Driving Questions, Productive Researching, and Idea Mapping micro-credentials.
  • Design: Crafting solutions to problems
    • Using collaborative problem-solving techniques
    • Using design thinking and doing methods
    • For additional examples, see the Collaborative Problem Solving, Design Thinking & Doing, and Designing Solutions micro-credentials.
  • Debate: Building a strong evidence-based case for a position on an issue
    • Effective reasoning
    • Creative problem solving
    • Systems thinking
    • Sound decision making
    • For additional examples, see the Effective Reasoning, Systems Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, and Making Sound Decisions micro-credentials.
  • Expression: Creatively expressing personal voice and perspectives in different media
    • Creative thinking and problem solving
    • Design thinking and doing
    • Creating impactful media messaging
    • For additional examples, see the Creative Problem Solving, Design Thinking & Doing, Persuasive Presenting, and Impactful Media Messaging micro-credentials.
  • Self-development: Setting and reaching personal goals
    • Having a growth mindset
    • Growing grit and perseverance
    • Using reflecting strategies
    • Developing a sense of belonging and caring
    • For additional examples, see the Growth Mindset Motivators, Grit Growing Strategies, Reflecting Strategies, and Belonging & Caring micro-credentials

Suggested preparation

  • Students discuss the types of learning challenges they regularly face in school and list the successful and not-so-successful strategies they use to meet these challenges.
  • Students create a Learning Goal-Strategy Journal (paper or electronic) with five sections, labeled Inquiry, Design, Debate, Expression, and Self-development, and record and categorize the strategies they use in class and at home for three days.
  • Students choose one of the five categories of learning strategies listed above, write a specific personal or academic goal they have for that category, then list some positive strategies they might use to reach this goal.
  • Students share their learning goals and some of the strategies they would like to use to reach those goals, recording the strategies under the appropriate learning goal categories.
  • Students add their strategies to a master class list organized under the five learning goal categories and discuss the variety of strategies captured in the master list.

Suggested review

  • Review each of the student journals and discuss students' observations and lessons learned from the journaling experience.
  • Students discuss in class how choosing the right learning strategy for the learning challenge at hand can be a powerful tool for learning and make students more self-directed learners.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Teachers usually take responsibility for choosing the appropriate learning strategy for the learning goal at hand; if students are to become more self-directed learners, its important that they take on more of the responsibility for choosing their goals and the best strategies to achieve them. Understanding common learning methods inquiry, design, debate, expression, and self-development and choosing appropriate learning strategies empowers students in their learning and self-direction.

  • Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 21st Century Skills Map Project Management for Learners, P21 and PMIEF, March 2014,
  • Trilling, Roadmaps to Deeper Learning, in Deeper Learning: Beyond 21st Century Skills, ed. James A. Bellanca (Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press), pp. 177_206.
  • Darling-Hammond et al. Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008).



Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in choosing learning strategies? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the choosing learning strategies activities and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, and other media) that demonstrate progress toward the choosing learning strategies competency, including such items as students’ lists of their personal and academic learning goals and the strategies they plan to take to reach them, samples of a Learning Goal–Strategy Journal, or other items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit their student-created reflections on the choosing learning strategies activities they experienced. Use the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the choosing learning strategies activities help you and your group understand the benefits of matching strategies to goals in the learning process?
  • How did the learning strategies and goals work change your view of how much personal control and power you have in directing your own learning?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the choosing learning strategies activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily teaching practice in the future?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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