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Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD): A Framework for Teaching Instructional Strategies

November 13, 2013, The IRIS Center

Karen Harris offers some detailed information about the steps in Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) (time: 8:24).

Question asked of Karen Harris in this audio:

Dr. Harris, we know that Self-Regulated Strategy Development, or SRSD, is a scientifically validated framework for explicitly teaching learning strategies to students. Can you describe its steps?

Karen Harris, PhD

Karen Harris, PhD
Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Transcript: Karen Harris, PhD

Narrator: This podcast is brought to you by the IRIS Center, a national center funded by the Office of Special Education Programs.

Narrator: Karin Harris offers some detailed information about the steps in Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD).

Narrator: Dr. Harris, we know that Self-Regulated Strategy Development, or SRSD, is a scientifically validated framework for explicitly teaching learning strategies to students. Can you describe its steps?

Karen Harris: Research over the last twenty-five years has helped us to develop an effective framework for teachers to teach writing strategies to students, and we call that framework SRSD, Self-Regulated Strategy Development. While most of our work has been done in writing, teachers use the same framework very successfully in math and reading as well. The six basic stages are Develop Background Knowledge, Discuss It, Model It, Memorize It, Support It, and Independent Performance. Now, it’s important at this point to mention that, while there are six stages, they’re not linear. You don’t do stage one and move to stage two. I think where you can best see this is in stages one and two, Developing Background Knowledge and Discussing It. You’re doing an awful lot of discussing while you’re developing background knowledge.

So what’s different about stage two, Discuss It? What is happening here is the transition into discussion of the specific strategy you are going to teach and the students are going to learn and the students are going to take ownership over. This is where you now introduce whatever the strategy is. We’re very careful here that we do not promise students that the strategy can do more for them than the strategy is actually capable of doing. We’re also very careful here that we emphasize the role of effort. No trick, no strategy, no matter how good, will work for you if you don’t work. So your effort is absolutely critical. We talk through what the strategy components are, what the strategy steps are. We tie it back to the goals we talk about with students. Why are we learning this strategy? Many teachers will begin introducing self-regulation components in the Discuss It stage, and that’s fine too. There’s no hard-and-set rule here. We believe strongly in providing teachers with a framework, but this is not a script. Somewhere in Developing Background Knowledge and Discuss It, you are going to start introducing goal-setting and self-monitoring. You’re going to talk about how the components of the strategy set up the goals for the product. These goals need to be individually tailored to our students.

It’s critical that during the Develop Background Knowledge and Discuss It stages that the teacher identify specific goals for each student, and it’s equally critical that those goals be individualized. If we overwhelm our students with too many goals too fast then we’re asking them to do some thing they’re not ready for yet. Teachers need to select with their students initial goals and then increase those goals over time. The Discuss It stage also needs to include a discussion of how the strategy will benefit the student. This discussion shouldn’t be limited to just “You’ll get better grades” or “You’ll pass the next test you take,” but, rather, how does it benefit your thinking? How does it benefit your ability to communicate with other people? And we begin to develop the notion of generalization. If you learn this strategy here, how can you use it in other places? If you wait and try to develop generalization at the end, research indicates that this will be far less powerful.

The next stage in SRSD is Model It. This is one of what we consider to be the two really pumping hearts of SRSD. The teacher is typically the first model, but peers are very effective models as well. I am going to tailor the statements I model to the students I am modeling for. Further, I am going to speak in a language that is similar to the language these students will use when they talk to themselves. I will not, however, expect that students will simply parrot or copy my self-instructions. I will help the students after modeling to develop their own self-instructions. And this is a critical part of the modeling process. When the teacher has modeled, we go back to discussion. We now discuss it. What did you see in that modeling? What helped? Why did it help? We ask students after modeling to establish their own self-statements. How many times will a teacher need to model before modeling is complete? It depends on the students. You may model only twice, and most or all of your students may be ready to go. They may be ready to start with some scaffolded support. Other students may need repeated collaborative modeling before they begin to really get the process and begin to take over ownership of this process.

Now, the next stage is Memorize It. The importance of stage four isn’t that you begin memorizing it. It’s that by this time you are absolutely certain that every student has it memorized. As our students tell us, and they clearly understand the need for this stage, “Well, you certainly can’t use it if you can’t remember it.” So at this point what we’re really doing is checking that every student has the strategy memorized. They also should have memorized some of the self-instructions they want to use.

The next stage is Support It. Without Support It, research clearly shows that the majority of students with learning difficulties or learning disabilities will not improve. We learned through our research that students at this point who have learning problems do not yet own this strategy. They can tell you all about the strategy but they cannot yet successfully use it independently. The leader, whether it’s a teacher or a peer, will support and scaffold and guide to the extent that a student needs that but will at all times be trying to put the student in charge, have the student lead the process. You gradually withdraw support until the student is leading the process independently. When the student is able to do that, you have reached Independent Performance. We now stay in that stage for a short while to make sure that the student can maintain that performance. Doing it once isn’t enough. We need to see the student do this two, three, four times, depending on the student and the task.

Not only are the stages of SRSD not linear—in other words, you don’t go from one to the next and you’re done with the stage before it—but it’s important to emphasize that the stages are recursive in the sense that you can return to any stage at any point. And, in fact, teachers typically do. You may be up to modeling and realize that there’s some background knowledge that the student you’re working with don’t have clear enough yet. So you’ll take some time after modeling and go back and work further on a key concept or construct that students need to go further successfully. This is, in all senses, not a once-and-done model of instruction. You don’t do a stage once and you’re done with it. You don’t do all six stages and you’re done. Furthermore, when you’re done, you’re still not done. One of the things we know about students with learning difficulties and learning disabilities is that they often don’t maintain what they’ve learned well. Research shows us this is typical not just of students with learning difficulties, in fact, but of many students. And we have the answer. It’s called booster sessions. We need to plan for these drops in maintenance. We need to do that by reviewing the strategies we’ve learned so far from time to time.

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