Home > General Overview of the Competency Model > Modes of Thought > Deliberation

While literacy practices intrinsically involve communication, they are also purposeful actions about which people think and make plans. For that reason, people need to be able to call up metacognitive representations that enable them to think about what they are doing when they engage in literacy practices. They need to have strategiesthat help them to plan and reason about those practices. And they need to be able to do all these things even in the middle of active communication—which creates tradeoffs due to the load that deliberation places on executive processing and working memory.

Because deliberation requires conscious decision-making, it is hard to carry on different types of deliberation simultaneously, or to deliberate while reading or writing. Switching from expressive or interpretive mode to a deliberative mode is thus a strategic decision, typically deployed when a problem can best be solved by breaking it into smaller pieces to reduce the load on working memory.

Of course, a skilled writer may switch rapidly from one mode to another. Rapid transcription may be monitored to invoke proofreading and correction. Pauses between phrases or sentences may be exploited to make editing decisions. Longer pauses at text junctions may be used to analyze the current text structure, plan major text segments, or decide to revise what has already been written. And writers who are fluent enough may have time available during text production to reflect on what they are doing and solve conceptual problems posed by the task. But given the processing demands of interpretation and expression, even a skilled writer may need strategies that enable them to solve reading and writing problems in stages, with external supports for working memory.

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