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Muskingum College's Learning Strategies Database

Muskingum College's Learning Strategies Database, prepared by the Center for Advancement of Learning, is a collection of learning strategies compiled by CAL staff members over a 15- year period. Intended for use by students, teachers, service providers, and parents, the database contains general-purpose and content-specific learning strategies applicable to postsecondary, secondary, and even elementary curricula. The database reflects the CAL's long- time commitment to a learning strategies approach.

The CAL Learning Strategies Database is divided into four main stacks of information. Database use, learning style assessment, and learning strategies instruction are covered in the Introduction stack. The General-Purpose Learning Strategies stack provides strategies in sixteen areas, such as memory, time management, and writing, as well as an alphabetical index of strategies. Strategies for over twenty academic disciplines, including English, history, and math, are presented in the Content-Specific Learning Strategies stack. The Bibliography stack lists by author and by subject all sources consulted in compiling the database.

As with many new concepts, the idea of an electronic learning strategies database developed in an atmosphere of frustrated optimism. CAL staff were excited about their exhaustive efforts accumulating learning strategies from books, journals, meetings, and other sources and applying the strategies to a variety of educational situations. But how best to disseminate the information? Following a poorly- attended weekly strategy workshop, CAL staff members pondered new ways to get the word out and hitupon the idea of a learning strategies database that allowed for individual access. The logical medium was computers, so CAL staff took to the task of inputting the volumes of strategies information into an electronic format. Through the generous support of Ameritech, Muskingum College, and private contributions, the Hypercard version of the database was posted on the Muskingum College local network in the fall of 1995, allowing students, faculty, and staff to easily access and use the material. One year later, the database was converted into HTML web pages and posted on the Internet, making it accessible off campus. With the conversion process nearing completion, the CAL Learning Strategies Database is now available to users around the world.

Responses from database users have been encouraging. The CAL has received questions and comments from a variety people using the database in different ways. A parent in Illinois explored the database for information that she could use to help her daughter, a high school student. One middle school student in Iowa used database information for her science fair project on mnemonics as study aids. Database users from Texas, Colorado, and Brazil have used the assessment information in their graduate studies. Instructors in Belgium, England, and Israel use the content-specific strategies with their students. Service provider Fritz Eckert commented

"WOW! I teach Study Skills to learning disabled students in North Carolina and I cannot express how wonderful your database is! I am making it my total curriculum both this year and I don't know how many years into the future. It's up to date and succinct and more helpful than the dregs of several years of scrounging for resources. Thank you!"

While the CAL is pleased with feedback received about the database, the work is far from over. Future plans for the learning strategies database include posting additional graphic representations of strategies, adding new strategies pages on topics such as metacognition and class participation, enhancing interactive capabilities, and augmenting the multimedia features of the database. Muskingum College is initiating an outreach project aimed at expanding database access to area schools and community centers and enhancing use of the database by teachers, students, and parents.

(1998)