Learning to learn: not just what, but how

Students often enter higher education, which is well supported and strengthened in their formal school environment. However, this support may not prepare students to succeed in higher education, where students need to engage in self-regulation and higher-level thinking. Higher education learning experiences should not only help students master the content (“what” of learning), but also give them the knowledge and skills to learn about “how”.

In this fifth article in our series, which covers seven principles in the context of higher education, we will discuss the study and thinking of higher education in more detail.

If students understand how to learn, they can improve their way of learning

The principle of learning Learning to learn and thinking higher focuses on awareness of thought processes and learning strategies, when and how to use them, and when and how to evaluate their effectiveness. University students may not have the skills necessary for successful independent study. This poses a challenge in which students must quickly and sometimes unexpectedly develop self-regulatory learning strategies and abilities to manage their academic needs.

The development of skills for self-regulation has strong benefits for achievement, involvement and motivation. Although some students develop effective learning skills independently (or think they do!), Many do not. The result can be a lack of effective learning strategies or the use of ineffective learning strategies, leading to learning difficulties.

Self-regulatory students are able to plan, monitor, and reflect on their thinking, emotional processes, and motivations. They can evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of their learning strategies and adapt them for improvement or implement them in different learning scenarios. Learning can be self-regulating or others can help co-ordinate through appropriate reinforcement and motivation. Groups can socialize with each other through collaborative learning goals and strategies. In an online environment, the need for self-regulation is even more important because the support of others may not be available as much as it does in a physical classroom.

The development of self-regulation also enables students to acquire high-level thinking skills, such as creative and critical thinking, and develops confidence and learning skills that allow them to take academic and creative risks, solve problems, think differently and innovate. to bring. Self-reflection is a way to engage higher-level thinking as students move from passive participation to their learning. It uses metacognition (that is, thinking about oneself). The learning context involves thinking about how to learn an individual, monitoring their strategies and thought processes around the world, and evaluating the effectiveness of these strategies and the conditions in which their learning takes place.

7 ways to implement Learning to learn and thinking higher in high school

  1. Help students plan their studies during the semester. Ways to help include:
    1. providing accurate study and assessment information and showing key dates
    2. incorporate effective learning strategies in the design and delivery of the course and explain them to students so that they can understand which strategies are effective and when to use them.
    3. encouraging students to set goals for their studies and to engage each other in their progress with these goals.
  2. Provide students with the opportunity to practice self-regulatory and socially collaborative skills. This is important to build students ’beliefs about the importance and value of regulatory skills and to enable them to transfer to an unfamiliar learning environment.
  3. Placement of self-guided tasks that encourage students to monitor their learning, motivation, emotions, use of strategies, and their progress. In this way, students are supported by the structure they follow and become acquainted with the practice of self-culture.
  4. Use cross-cultural experiences to generate metacognitive awareness and act on students. Include open-ended and reflective questions during the study or assessment activities related to the course topics. For example, what learning strategies will you use to prepare for the mid-term exam? Why do you believe these are effective? Were your training strategies effective? How can you adapt this in the future?
  5. Encourage students to think about their own thoughts and assumptions. They may ask themselves or others questions, for example: why do I / you think so? How else can this be thought of? How else can this be explained? What do other people think? Teachers can model this type of thinking and share their thinking processes with students in a learning context.
  6. Creative and critical thinking in learning and assessment activities. Ask questions and challenges that encourage different thinking and consideration of alternative explanations. This can be like learning with room for students to learn, experience, collaborate, take risks and be self-reliant. Tasks that challenge existing beliefs or ideas and lead to deadlock can be very effective in teaching.
  7. Opportunities for students to self-regulate learning-related emotions. How do they feel while studying? Are they useful or harmful for their study? Why?

Students can use effective methods of thinking and improve their teaching style

Teachers cannot assume that learners have already developed effective teaching strategies and skills to apply, adapt, evaluate effectiveness and re-adapt to use them in a variety of contexts. Curriculum design, which unites students’ opportunities for self-regulation and self-awareness, and supports their peers to regulate their learning, provides students with a way to develop higher thinking in all learning environments.

Annemarie Carroll is the head of the study laboratory at the Center for Scientific Research; Stephanie McMahon is the Director of Training Lab Programs; Jason M. Lodge and Alexandra Osika lead the work of the training laboratory at the university. The Learning Laboratory of the Center for the Study of Science, located within the University of Queensland School of Education, brings together multidisciplinary researchers and inter-professional partners to transform lifelong learning.

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