Posted on 04/22/2016 at 02:37 PM by Blog Experts

May 2016 Reading Blog

Skill or Strategy?


A skill is an acquired ability to perform well, proficiency.


A strategy is a systematic plan, consciously adapted and monitored, to improve one’s performance in learning.


There seems to be some confusion or lack of consistency in the use of the terms skill and strategy.  This lack of consistency may, in fact, be confusing students and teachers alike and therefore, resulting in the possible discourse of what we teach and what students learn.



Professionals who teach reading use the terms skill and strategy almost daily in their work.  Here are what some of those professionals are saying about what each term meant as well as how the two might be related. 


  • “Skills make up strategies.”
  • “Strategies lead to skills.”
  • “Skill is the destination, strategy is the journey.”
  • “We learn strategies to do a skill.”
  • “Skills are automatic, strategies are effortful and mediated.”
  • “We use strategies as tools.”
  • “Strategies that work require a skill set.”
  • “We have to pay attention in learning skills, but, eventually we use them automatically.”
  • “You don’t think about skills, and you do think about strategies.”



To inquire more about reading skills and strategies, I encourage you to read Clarifying Differences Between Reading Skills and Reading Strategies by Peter Afflerbach, P. David Pearson, and Scott G. Paris. 



Afflerbach, P., Pearson P.D.,& Paris, S.(2008) Clarifying differences between

reading skills and reading strategies. The Reading Teacher, 61(5), pp. 364-373.




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