Verbal Strategies

Study: Twelve Verbal Processing Strategies

The purpose of the Verbal Processing Strategies is to provide a variety of ways to organize information using words. Most students are familiar with outlining and writing summaries.  You should learn to use these more effectively and try using other strategies.

In addition to helping you organize information for study, you can use these strategies to write outstanding papers and prepare for tests. In fact, applying these strategies regularly should improve your writing skills. Essay tests will be easy for you when you have written many summaries or other discussions of the material.

Verbal Processing Strategies can be exciting

Do you hate doing outlines? Check them out again. Outlines may be just as helpful as concept maps – and for some purposes, much more helpful. When you were practicing the skill of outlining because a teacher told you to, when you weren’t interested in the information, of course they were boring. I hated them too. But, when you are writing an outline to help you organize and understand the material you are studying, they are more interesting and very helpful

Do you dread writing summaries? You might find writing summaries an extremely helpful strategy that will help you understand important topics. Again, writing a summary for a teacher can be boring. You are only trying to write what you think the teachers wants. But when you are writing a summary just for yourself, you might enjoy the process, and you will discover how much better you understand the information.

The two verbal strategies I find essential are:
1.   Taking Reading Notes
2.  Asking Questions  — along with finding answers

No student will find all strategies equally helpful, but everyone should be able to find several that are useful. A combination of verbal and visual strategies will generally  be most helpful.

The Relationship between Verbal and Visual Strategies

Do not expect to find a 1:1 relationship. You can usually outline and summarize almost everything you read or hear in lectures.  Other strategies are used less often..

One Chain of relationships is entirely verbal.

When you begin with reading your book or listening to a lecture, you can use READING NOTES as you read and Taking Notes during the lecture. You might continue to use   QUESTIONS, and identifying the THESIS statements to understand the material and JOURNALING to reflect on it.  This can lead  to organizing the information visually or with an OUTLINE, SUMMARY, EVIDENCE AND EXAMPLES, and CRITIQUE and EVALUATE.

Another chain of relationships begins with Visuals

The visuals can either be those you created, yourself, or those from your book or other sources.  You might begin with a math formula or  problem. You might analyze graphs of statistical data.  You might also begin with a concept map, timeline, compare and contrast chart, matrix chart, webbing or other visuals.

You can  DESCRIBE, SUMMARIZE, OUTLINE, EXPLAIN, DISCUSS/DEBATE or CRITIQUE and EVALUATE the information to understand the information and assess its importance and implications.

When you need to explain difficult material, you might also find it helpful to use STORIES or METAPHORS to help explain the concepts. I have used stories and metaphors all through this website to help readers understand and remember important ideas. On the home page, for example, you will find study compared to digestion… a metaphor. You will also find visual metaphors like the little heads on the home page or the tree and then the concept map to display the organization of the website.