James Carifio, Lisa Erikson and Shanna Thompson
Take-aways are the key and critical messages and meanings learners derive from presentations and interactions of all kinds. Cognitive learning theory Takeaways are not prescriptive; rather they are extracted and constructed by the learner at the conclusion of a learning session. Little research has been done on this backend of the learning process. This inquiry explored the Takeaway technique in a variety of ways by having 30 undergraduate students write a brief Takeaway after each class in an introductory cognitive psychology course and relating their Takeaways to the quality of their responses to in-class higher-order essay exam questions. Students were also asked to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of Takeaways and provide remedies for the negative aspects they identified. The quality of student Takeaways predicted essay exam achievement at r= +.45 across 3 such exams with students being positive about the technique by the end of the course. Students’ Math, Verbal, and Writing SAT scores did not predict the quality of the Takeaways they wrote (as predicted), or their scores (grades) on the 3 essay examations in the course. Student evaluations of the Takeaway technique were congruent with both the model and theory of Takeways developed as the framework for this study, which is presented in this article. Overall, the Takeaway technique is a relative simple and flexible device and strategy that may be used in many different ways to develop students cognitive and meta-cognitive skills and learning character, and higher order cognitive processes and understandings of subject-matter content, even though the technique has limitations and drawbacks which may be overcome in various ways. As predicted, the cognitive Takeaway was particularly successful with and helpful to students who were novices in the subject-matter to be learned.
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