Strategy 12: Conversation
Version Date: February 27, 2014
In a nutshell, this learning strategy involves learning by talking
about what we are studying
and listening to the input of others.
Observers have long noted that we really discover what
we know and what we are thinking only when we turn our ideas into
words--talking about our ideas with someone. Other observers have also
long noted that the best way to learn something is to teach it to
someone else. It's this process of verbalization, of articulation of
your knowledge and understanding that lies at the heart of the first
part of the Conversation learning strategy.
In fact, it has been said that we don't really know what we know or
what we think until we express our thoughts aloud. It's even been the
experience of many that simply talking--even to yourself (aloud) or to
an inanimate object helps to clarify and cement your thinking. And
while you might not want to practice this "talk to a rock" strategy in
the public arena, you should feel free to do it in your own room or
In the process of sharing what is being learned, listening to
feedback and response, and answering questions and challenges make up
the second part of this strategy.
Talking to others about your learning can be accomplished through a
one-on-one meeting (students paired up), small groups (three or four
students in a group), or in presentation format (a prepared talk to the
entire class or onine community, for example).
Here are some techniques to use when you are in class or in an
online leaning group:
Another way to use the Conversation strategy is to talk to people
outside of class, such as a friend or relative. Explaining a theory or
presenting knowledge to someone who knows nothing about it makes for an
ideal challenge. And, of course, the more you have to explain, the
better your memory and understanding will become.
- Summarize the content. The audience can
then (1) repeat back to the presenter what they understand has been
presented, (2) perform their own summary of the content, and (3)
compare the summaries to determine how much agreement or difference
there is and then (4) work as a group to produce a complete and
accurate summary of the content.
- Paraphrase the important content.
Follow the steps for summarizing above. Once again, the audience can
compare notes and seek clarification.
- Ask Questions. During the
presentation, the presenter can ask questions for the audience to think
about during the talk. Remember that framing questions creates a
curiosity itch in the
hearer's mind, so that the arrival of an answer is highly anticipated.
This interest helps with the formation of memory. Curiosity = Better,
Longer Memory. After the presentation, having several group or class
members answer the same question can prove especially enlightening for
the entire group.
- Answer Questions. The presenter can respond to questions about
the presentation. Question and answer engagements are an excellent way
to clarify facts, theories, and opinions. The quesitons and answers can
be written down and turned into a FAQ for study purposes. With
the entire group participation, the FAQ can be assembled quickly.
Follow the EAR steps:
- Explain. To produce a
clear explanation of your learning, you'll
need to make the ideas simple and as concrete as possible while still
being clear and accurate. Explaining ideas in simpler terms improves
your own understanding.
- Answer. When you explain
concepts to your unknowling listener,
you'll get many questions, and they will help you understand what a
person with no context to build on needs to know or understand. These
insights will help you organize your own mental framework
- Reflect. Ask questions of
your audience (1) to see how well they
can tell you what you have just said and (2) to determine how well your
Make yourself a great study aid that can redeem the time in your car
when you are stuck in traffic.
- Record an interactive conversation with a fellow student, in
which each of you presents the material to be studied, shifting back
and forth from one to the other in the style of TV network broadcast
news. Use details and be accurate.
- Save the interaction and load in onto your computer, smart phone,
Andoid, or epub reader.
- Listen to the recording when you are in your car, on a hike, on
the treadmill at the gym, or just walking around.
Learning Strategy 1: Mnemonics
Learning Strategy 2: Paraphrasing
Learning Strategy 3: Summarizing
Learning Strategy 4: Self Monitoring
Learning Strategy 5: Self Explanation
Learning Strategy 6: Mental Rehearsal
Learning Strategy 7: Self Assessment
Learning Strategy 8: The SQ3R Reading Method
Learning Strategy 9: Note Taking
Learning Strategy 10: The Leitner Flash Card
Learning Strategy 11: Maintaining Interest
Learning Strategy 12: Conversation
Learning Strategy 13: Group Interaction
Learning Strategy 14: Idea Mapping
Learning Strategy 15: Drawing Pictures
Learning Strategy 16: Study Cycles
Learning Strategy 17: Sleep and Rest
Learning Strategy 18: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 19: Learning Strategy Checklist
Learning Strategy 20: Asking Questions
Learning Strategy 21: Idea Linking
Learning Strategy 22: How to Use a Book
Learning Strategy 23: Active Listening
Learning Strategy 24: Close Reading
Learning Strategy 25: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 26: Power Thinking
Learning Strategy 27: Planning for Learning
Learning Strategy 28: Outlining
Learning Strategy 29: Analogies
2013 by Robert Harris | How
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About the author:
Harris is a writer
and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the
and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com