Teaching Students to Learn How to Learn

Is it my responsibility as an instructor to teach students how to learn? If I want to be a good instructor, I should make this my responsibility! Although there are time constraints, if I manage to self-regulation strategies into my teaching, students learn the course material more quickly, and will ultimately save me time. Doing this will also help boost their GPAs, graduation rates, and will help them to become experts in their field.

“After all,” says Pintrich. “one of the hallmarks of an expert is knowing what you don’t know. Students come a long way when they realize that.” (http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun00/howtolearn.aspx)

I came across a neat article on the APA website. Who knew that the American Psychological Association does more than provide referencing guidelines!? I guess I learned something new today!

The article addresses the fact that students learn best when they self-regulate – but that many students are not self-aware enough to do this. They suggest that college instructors can help learners to develop this skill. As many of you have already touched on, reflection is a huge part of learning. The other components of self-regulation that instructors can help students to improve are: forethought (setting challenging short-term goals) and performance (using “powerful” learning strategies).

How can an instructor help?
-Provide clear learning objectives (I did the PIDP 3210 course on developing a curriculum – learning objectives are VERY important!) and refer to them often, and relate test and homework assignment to how well the students’ answers meet the learning objectives
-Make the material relevant
-Quiz frequently (Seems mean, but actually helps learners to identify their knowledge gaps and work on them before the final exam comes along)
-Model and encourage self-reflection

I think that these are all fairly easy ways a college instructor can help students to learn. It doesn’t take too much extra effort on the part of the instructor, and wouldn’t take away from the teaching on the actual course objectives. And the value of learning how to learn is something that the students will be able to take away with them in future education, work, and life.

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Filed under PIDP 3250

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