Thursday, May 24, 2012

Working Memory Part 8 - Monitoring

Monitoring is an important memory process, it enables learners to develop as self-regulating learners. It keeps tabs on how the thinking is progressing during any learning activity. During reading it is largely guided by the goals set by the learner in the Before reading phase. It may, for example, focus on whether or not the on-line reading is making sense. If, for example, the reading does not make sense then the reader may read back to the beginning of the sentence to regain meaning. If this does not work the reader may choose to sample more of the look and sound of the words in the text or read on to the end of the sentence to sample the the context to gain more cues.

Thus, the monitoring regulates the comprehension strategies used during the reading process and directs the attentional focus in working memory.

To recap on this series - in the COR literacy framework I have indicated (in red) where this monitoring aspect fits.

Before the learning activity (Conceptualise)
  • Attending:  focusing attention on the task and excluding extraneous information.
  • Planning: ordering information (what is known) and prioritising time. This may take the form of writing notes, drawing diagrams, visualising.
  • Goal-setting: prioritising and setting goals for the activity. 
During the learning activity (Organise)
  • Organising: sifting the main ideas from the details,  by shifting and categorising.
  • Encoding: arranging information and linking with background knowledge from long-term memory, encoding and storing information into long-term memory.
  • Monitoring: checking whether the encoding process is making sense and whether the reading or writing strategies are adequate or whether an alternative strategy will work better.
After the learning activity (Reflect)
  • Reviewing: Recollecting the events of a story or the ideas presented in an article.
  • Reorganising: Reframing the recollections in a way that is more meaningful and connected to one's life experience.
  • Reflecting: Thinking about what has been learned and forming an opinion, making judgements, and predicting outcomes.
In summary we basically process text at three thinking levels in each of the three reading phases (before, during, and after).

What can you do to promote monitoring during reading?
  1. Focus on the goals that were set during the before reading phase of the learning activity.
  2. Focus on meaning - comprehension is about constructing meaning.
  3. Give specific feedback.
  4. Model the monitoring process by thinking out loud while reading so that the novice reader can hear what good readers do while reading.
  5. View self-correction as an important part of the reading process - it shows a focus on meaning making.
  6. Give praise but it should always be related to performance goals (set in the before reading phase) and model the way in which the reader should generate self-praise.
  7. Encourage the reader to make self-statements e.g. self-praise statements.

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