The K-W-L-H Learning Strategy

The K-W-L-H learning strategy is one of the most popular strategies that have been used by the learning community to read and understand texts as well as work on different school projects. This strategy was developed by the researcher Donna Ogle in 1986 and was originally developed for studying literature. K-W-L-H is an acronym.

K stands for what I “Know.”

W stands for what I “Want” to learn.

L stands for what I am learning/have “Learnt.”

H stands for “How” can I learn more about the topic.

This is normally represented in a table format. It is a comprehensive learning strategy based on the constructivist theory of learning. The first column “K” takes into account the need for looking at each student’s prior knowledge in order to make connections with the topic to be studied. In this way, the student will be more involved in the learning process as he/she will be “constructing meaning” out of any new information gleaned and linking it to the prior knowledge base. No topic can be entirely new as learning normally happens in graded levels. However, in the rare instance of the students having very limited exposure to a new topic, some pre-project or pre-reading exercises can be done. This can come under their prior knowledge base. Certain misconceptions about a topic can also be cleared in case students make such entries in the prior knowledge column. Better understanding and clarity can be achieved as the students embark on learning the topic. “W” prompts students to articulate and write down what they would like to learn about a particular topic in order to bring the topic into focus and encourage their curiosity. “L” prompts students to note down what they are learning as they read more or the project progresses in a systematic manner. They are clearly able to see how their knowledge base on the topic is building up. In the end, they will be able to articulate what they have learnt from the topic.

Finally, “H” which was a later addition ensures that students can progress further in their learning journey on the particular topic by making them articulate ways for them to learn more about the topic or how they can further innovate on the outcome of a project. For example, if the topic to be studied is Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the prior knowledge may include other Shakespeare plays that the students may have read like Macbeth. By reflecting and reviewing on their prior knowledge, students will be able to critically read the “new” play and compare and contrast it with their prior knowledge. An entry in “W” could be that a student would like to know how a comedy by Shakespeare compares with a tragedy like Macbeth. “L” will help them critically analyse the play and be more involved and engaged in the reading of the play. “H” will encourage students to read more comedy plays written by Shakespeare and study and analyse them. Thus, a complete learning cycle can be tracked using the K-W-L-H learning strategy.

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