LASSI: to evaluate learning skills and strategies
According to an experiment carried out at Cégep Champlain-St.Lawrence, it is possible to identify students who are at risk of failing from the moment they enrol. This makes it possible to provide them, from the onset of their journey through college, with the resources they need to better succeed with their studies. To rapidly identify the students at risk, we could have used, as many CEGEPs already have, the inventory of pre-college acquired knowledge (Inventaire des acquis précollégiaux/IAP) (Garceau and Larose, 2003). The fact that IAP is used in 18 CEGEPs speaks volumes about its merits and usefulness. However, we firmly believe that the IAP should be used by professionals trained in helping relations, for instance guidance counsellors, psychologists, or individual educational agents (IEA). In a small college like ours it was difficult to adopt the IAP: The IEA service simply does not exist and the other professional specialists in helping relations are already heavily solicited. So we turned to a tool that could be used online by the students themselves, called the LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory) test by Weinstein, Palmer and Schulte (1987). This test evaluates students’ strengths and weaknesses as regards their learning strategies. Using this tool, we focused on cognitive variables such as motivation, anxiety and concentration capacity as well as time management. We were thereby able to identify, from the moment of enrolment in college, groups of students at risk, e.g. those who display pre-existing weaknesses in terms of learning skills and strategies. The effectiveness of LASSI lies in the importance it gives to the learning process rather than learning results: the fact of asking teachers or peers to help the students concentrate on the action and the process rather than on the performance appeals both to teachers and helping peers as well as the students themselves. (Talbot, 1996).
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