Teaching Strategy Tip #28

Master basic metacognitive processes*

Strategy: Support students’ efforts to evaluate their own knowledge and skills, identifying strengths and weaknesses. Instructors can help students recognize what they do well and where they need improvement in their performance. Learning to assess how to complete a performance task (e.g., project, examination) demands guidance from the instructor and practice by the student.

Process: For every demonstration of performance (ungraded and graded), instructors guide students to:

Source: http://bit.ly/TeachingGuideMetacognition

  • Lay out a plan to approach the task, writing all the steps to be taken, prior to starting on the task itself. Include how much time each step in the plan will take. Inform students that “experts spend proportionately much more time than novices planning their approach” (p. 197).
  • Review and incorporate feedback that the instructor provides from a review of the plan, which details any necessary steps that have been omitted, before the work on the task itself is started.
  • Consider and apply different strategies at each step of the plan.

For studying:

  • Inform students to monitor their own progress, and explain to themselves what they are learning. Students might:
    • Talk aloud while studying
    • Stop and ask whether they understand the concepts just presented [[PDF] Appendix A]
    • Respond to a series of comprehension-monitoring questions during reading (self-monitoring)
    • Reflect on the degree to which their current approach is working so that they can adjust and restart the cycle as needed.

Notes: Good problem solvers will try new strategies if their current strategy is not working, whereas poor problem solvers will continue to use a strategy even after it has failed (p. 199).

  • Caution students that new approaches take time and effort to become new habits of learning.

*Adapted from Ambrose et al., 2010

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