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Operationalizations and analysis of strategies and strategy use

While the first two parts of the Handbook explore conceptual and contextual issues of strategies and strategy use, clarifying conceptions is far from the only issue in the contemporary strategies literature. As we hope this Handbook can help lead to some consensus on what strategies are, we are equally concerned with how strategies have been operationalized in the literature. This issue has encompassed both cognitive strategies themselves (e.g., Dinsmore, 2017) as well as metacognitive strategies (e.g., Veenman, Van Hout-Wolters, & Aftlerbach, 2006).

The third section - Measuring Strategic Processing - begins with the most ubiquitous measurement of strategies and strategic processing (Asikainen & Gijbels, 2017; Dinsmore, 2017; Dinsmore et al., 2008). In this chapter Vermunt (Chapter 16) captures both the historical role of surveys and retrospective self-report as well as the fraught relationship researchers have had with these measures over the past few decades.

While critical of the shortcomings of self-report, Vermunt also offers suggestions for how retrospective self-report and surveys can continue to contribute to the literature. In addition to the arguments in the literature around retrospective self-report, concurrent self-reports have also endured some criticism as well. Braten, Magliano, and Salmeron (Chapter 17) mirror Vermunt’s concerns in discussing both the shortcomings of concurrent self-report, in addition to their future as viable measures of strategies and strategic processing going forward.

These more established measures are recently being challenged by two new paradigms: the emergence of Big Data and the use of physiological measurements of strategic processing. Lawless and Riel (Chapter 18) explore how Big Data is becoming more and more ubiquitous in examining strategies - primarily consumer strategies - in the corporate setting. Behemoth companies like Google employ complex algorithms to examine this strategic behavior (or lack thereof) across Internet search platforms as well as social media platforms. On the one hand, the amount of data is enticing; however, as Lawless and Riel point out, this avalanche of data and the secrecy with which the algorithms are used to examine this data are troubling. In addition to the arrival of Big Data on the scene, the use of physiological measures continues to increase year by year. Catrysse, Gijbels, and Donche (Chapter 19) overview two of these measurements - eye tracking and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As with the Big Data chapter, they expose the reader to the promises of these new technologies to better understand strategies and strategic processing, while at the same time critically examining the gaps and difficulties these new approaches represent.

Gijbels and Loyens (Chapter 20) in their commentary weigh the pros and cons of these approaches and offer readers a way to think about designing experiments that leverage the strengths of these particular measurements to best answer their research questions. We certainly agree with Gijbels and Loyens that no one measurement will provide a panacea to investigating strategies and strategic processing. Rather, it will be necessary to smartly employ some combination of these techniques to better help learners become strategic.

The final section - Analyzing Strategic Processing - examines the multitude of ways that strategic processing has been examined. Of particular import here is that, similar to the measurement of strategic processing, the analysis or analyses has to first and foremost serve the purpose of the research questions as well as help us better build theories relevant to strategic processing. The Handbook offers three such chapters to help the reader ponder appropriate analytic strategies. The first of these, quantitative variable-centered approaches, are probably most familiar to our readers. Freed, Greene, and Plumley (Chapter 21) not only overview these familiar approaches but also help situate these approaches in the context of analyzing strategic processing, something that not every reader will necessarily have considered. The other quantitative approach - the person-centered approach - is discussed at length by Fryer and Shum (Chapter 22). They offer exciting new ways to analyze strategic processing that have been used primarily in the motivation literature thus far. Finally, with regard to analyses, Cho, Woodward, and Aftlerbach (Chapter 23) offer approaches to qualitative examinations of strategic processing. Situated mostly in the context of strategic processing during reading, this chapter provides a framework for qualitative analysis that could certainly be applied in a multitude of contexts.

Of course, being able to select the appropriate analysis is most crucial to effectively analyzing strategic processing. While this is often a difficult endeavor, the reader is aided by Cromley s (Chapter 24) synthesis of these analytic approaches. She deftly describes the pros and cons of these approaches which will undoubtedly aid the reader in selecting an appropriate analysis or analyses.

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