As Decoding the Disciplines emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s from the work of the Indiana University Freshman Learning Project, this work began to coalesce around seven basic activities that could increase student learning.  These were arranged in a series of steps that instructors can follow to organize their responses to obstacles to student learning. The order in which they are presented is based on a logical sequence, but it should not be treated as a rigid prescription.  Sometimes the steps can be pursued in a different order, or one can focus one or two of the steps.

International Adoption

It is being used in a dozen countries as both a practical strategy for helping students with difficult material and as a basis for research in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

For example, Dr. Jolanta Mickute is using the decoding process in the EU to address intercultural bottlenecks.

Steps in the Decoding Process

  1. Identify a bottleneck to learning
  2. Uncover the mental tasks needed to overcome the bottleneck
  3. Model these tasks
  4. Give students practice and feedback
  5. Motivate and lessen resistance
  6. Assess student mastery
  7. Share what has been learned through the Decoding process