Multiple exposures – providing multiple opportunities to work with a particular text or genre in order to improve understanding, familiarity and memory.
A multiple-exposure strategy involves providing students with 2 or more opportunities to engage with a particular text, problem, author, idea, theme or genre. In its most basic form, teachers employing this strategy have students learn or study something more than once. For example, students learning about advertising could be exposed to dozens of ads each followed by a short class discussion or other practice activity. Alternatively, students may be exposed to the same ad multiple times – seeking new information with each viewing.
A multiple-exposure strategy can be used to study the same (or a similar) problem on several occasions in order to develop automaticity and process skills – students learn to unpick the problem word-by-word – something that they cannot do with a single exposure.
While this strategy may seem simple, many novice teachers (already stressed by an overloaded curriculum) frequently provide only a single exposure to students. However, a single exposure is not enough to commit new skills and knowledge to long-term memory, to develop transferable and metacognitive skills, and to develop a deep understanding of ideas, concepts, processes and themes.
A multiple-exposure strategy isn’t limited to the literacy or reading class. It is widely used and applied in almost every subject. For example, high school students often struggle with maths problems that are written in sentence format. A multiple-exposure strategy can be used to study the same (or a similar) problem on several occasions in order to develop automaticity and process skills – students learn to unpick the problem word-by-word – something that they cannot do with a single exposure.
Repeated reading is a common form of multiple exposure. This involves students reading the same passage from a text (usually a short story) 3 or 4 times – reading and comprehension improves with each exposure. In a foreign language classroom, students can be provided with dozens of examples of numbers from multiple sources: street signs, worksheets, comics, skits, simulations and games. The multiple-exposure strategy is often combined with a multi-modal strategy.
Multi-modal strategies – the use of more than one mode of communication (TV, radio, book, short story, email etc.) to learn about a common aspect such as a theme.
A multi-modal strategy involves exposing students to multiple texts and multiple text types. A text is any resource that carries a message. It includes traditional resources such as novels as well as non-traditional resources such as ads, police reports and blogs. For example, students who are learning about advertising may consider ads from TV, radio, magazine, newspaper, social media and email. They can also consider several examples of each media type (such as TV ads produced for different audiences and products). This strategy provides students with a wider and deeper understanding of each text type and the overarching theme (such as advertising) when compared to studying a single text (such as a novel) for a prolonged period. Because of this effect and the use of authentic real-world texts, multi-modal strategies are commonly associated with the teaching of critical literacy skills.
A multi-modal strategy involves exposing students to multiple texts and multiple text types. A text is any resource that carries a message.
Similar to the multiple-exposure strategy, multi-modal strategies work on the premise that multiple exposures are required for deep learning, making links, transferable skills, automaticity and commitment of knowledge and skills to long-term memory. Teachers implementing a multi-modal strategy expose students to multiple text types, multiple authors and creators, and multiple contexts:
Multi-modal strategies help students to develop important life skills such the ability to identify online scams. This is because students learn and apply critical literacy skills (such as considering the author’s purpose) to a range of texts. They can uncover patterns and techniques that apply to all text types. As students have multiple opportunities to practise analysing a myriad of texts, it is relatively easy to then apply these skills to an unfamiliar text type. These transferable skills are invaluable for students’ future schooling and careers.
Multi-modal strategies help students to develop important life skills such the ability to identify online scams.
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and an author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of Fast Track Training Australia, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
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