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Answered By: Sara Stambaugh, Digital Services Librarian
Last Updated: Mar 31, 2015     Views: 230

KWL is a research strategy.  The approximate acronym stands for "What I Know," "What I Want to Know," and "What I Learned."  Many students and teachers also use it as a reading comprehension aid.

KWL is most often shown in a three-column graphic organizer:

  • First column: Record what you already know about a particular topic (prior knowledge), before you start researching the topic.
  • Second column: Ask yourself: "what do I want to know?" about a topic and then record those points.  This helps you to start formulating research questions which is a key component of the research process. 
  • Third column: record what you learn during the research process.  Often, this column prompts further research and further KWL (questioning). 

Please see attached for an example of the three-column organizer available at no cost through Heinemann Publishing.