Definition of Theory

Students who can effectively summarize learn to synthesize information, a higher-order thinking skill which includes analyzing information, identifying key concepts, and defining extraneous information. Effective summarizing leads to an increase in student learning. Helping students recognize how information is structured will help them summarize what they read or hear. For example, summarizing of a reading assignment can be more effective when done within summary frames, which typically include a series of questions the teacher provides to direct student attention to specific content (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). To summarize effectively students need to know what to:  1) Delete,2) Keep 3) Substitute.

Note taking is a related strategy that teachers use to support student learning. Without explicit instruction in note taking, however, many students simply write down words or phrases word for word, without analysis (or good effect).Students who can effectively summarize learn to synthesize information, a higher-order thinking skill which includes analyzing information, identifying key concepts, and defining extraneous information.Note taking is a related strategy that teachers use to support student learning. Without explicit instruction in note taking, however, many students simply write down words or phrases word for word, without analysis (or good effect). Students need to know how a text is organized and structured in order to take notes successfully.

Northwest Regional Laboratory, now called Education Northwest, suggest that teachers consider five key research findings for this strategy:

  • Students have to analyze information at a deep level in order to decide what information to delete, what to substitute, and what to keep when they are asked to give a summary (Anderson, V., & Hidi, 1988/1989; Hidi & Anderson, 1987).
  • Reading comprehension increases when students learn how to incorporate "summary frames" as a tool for summarizing (Meyer & Freedle, 1984). Summary frames are a series of questions created by the teacher and designed to highlight critical passages of text. When students use this strategy, they are better able to understand what they are reading, identify key information, and provide a summary that helps them retain the information (Armbruster, Anderson, & Ostertag, 1987).
  • Teacher-prepared notes show students what is important and how ideas relate, and offer a model for how students should take notes themselves (Marzano et al., 2001).
  • Notes should be in both linguistic and nonlinguistic forms, including idea webs, sketches, informal outlines, and combinations of words and schematics; and, the more notes, the better (Nye, Crooks, Powlie, & Tripp, 1984).
  • When students review and revise their own notes, the notes become more meaningful and useful (Anderson & Armbruster, 1986; Denner, 1986; Einstein, Morris, & Smith, 1985).

Articles on Best Practice:

Focus on Effectiveness, 2005. http://www.netc.org/focus/strategies/summ.php

Evidence-Based Practices for Teaching Writing: Steve Graham & Amy Gillespie Winter 2011

Writing English as a Second Language: William Zinsser Winter 2010