Creating independent students

One of our biggest goal as teachers is to provide our students with all the necessary tools which will equip them with the capability of being independent and feeling confident in themselves during their study. If we succeed that, then we have automatically accomplished the most important challenge in the learning process.

It is essential to inform the students that if they get used to some simple yet critical methods of studying, they are going to be able to understand, learn and even delve into any lesson. Whatever we study, we have to deal with a text and therefore we must have the capacity of using some helpful techniques. So, which are the exact tools that can help our students succeed in learning comprehension?

Learning comprehension is an active and highly complex process, in which five basic and interconnected cognitive processes take place; micro-level understanding (grouping of individual words), synthetic comprehension (semantic connection between sentences), long-term comprehension, level (organization of the information of a text), the complex understanding (drawing conclusions beyond the explicit information of the text) and the metacognitive process of understanding (monitoring of comprehension) (Klinger, et al., 2007).

For each process students must use a different method so as to continue with the next one. Initially, during their first reading, they can underline their unknown words and search them so as to note over them a synonym. After that, they can read every paragraph isolated and try to find the connection between its sentences. For example, is the meaning continuing, being explained or opposed while reading the following sentence? That step is quite important to be done with the passage from one paragraph to another as well.

Furthermore, the students can choose between various helpful techniques. For instance, they can keep notes, create mental maps, write italic notes next to the given paragraphs and underline the most essential parts of each paragraph. All these, are going to help them have the absolute control of their reading process.

Last but not least, it is important to make sure that the students pay attention, before their first reading, at the following; the title, the introduction, the images with or without a caption and especially the questions that are going to be answered, in order to know in advance the axes and the parts that are called to answer. And mostly! Before reading, let them envision and assume what they are about to read based on their experiences so far.

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Klinger, K.J., Vaughn, S., & Boardman, A. (2007). Teaching Reading Comprehension to Students with Learning Difficulties. What Works for Special-Needs Learners. Guilford Publications.

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