Assessing strategy

When you evaluate any specific study strategy the critical questions are:

  • Does it help you understand the information?
  • Does it help you select the important information?

To choose a strategy, you must assess the situation. In this case, this may mean an evaluation of a written text. Let's look at how you might evaluate text.

We can classify text at one of three different levels, according to its structure and density1:

  1. simple (straightforward text with clear connections)
  2. complex (characterized by many changes of topic and more than one level of information)
  3. difficult (dense text with many topic changes, often unclear, inconsistent and/or abstract)

These different types of text require progressively more complex strategies.

Textual strategies can be classified into six broad processes1:

Broad processes

Specific strategies

Re-stating paraphrasing; visualizing; transformational elaboration
Selecting underlining, highlighting, boxes, lists
Abstracting themes headings, summaries
Perceiving structure outlines, graphic organizers
Making sense of information elaborative interrogation, analogies, maps, multimedia summaries, re-structuring, charts & tables, integrating sections of text.
Monitoring comprehension constructing and testing theories about the meaning of the text, seeking additional information

Matching these processes against our classes of text (noting that processes listed beside text levels indicate additional processes required - including processes used at lower levels of difficulty), we get1:

Simple text re-statement
Complex text selecting
abstracting themes
perceiving structure
making sense of information
Difficult text monitoring comprehension




  1. Jones, B.F. 1986. Text learning strategy instruction: guidelines from theory and practice. In C.E. Weinstein, E.T. Goetz & P.A. Alexander Learning and study strategies. New York: Academic Press.
  2. 1. Taken from The Memory Key.