As many students find out the hard way, strategies for learning that worked well in high school don’t always scale well to Carleton’s rigorous environment. As faculty and staff, you are in a unique position to help students understand that learning to learn is incremental and takes practice and reflection. There are many strategies to help make this process explicit so that students can reflect on learning strategies that work, helping them become self-regulated learners, which increases self-efficacy and metacognitive skills.

Selected Actionable Strategies

The following strategies take a small amount of time, but have a high impact on students’ ability to reflect explicitly on their own learning.

Reflective Prompts

There are many quick ways to help students reflect. These could be given at a single assignment scale, such as asking students to write the steps they took to solve a specific problem (read more about documented problem solving). At a course level, students could spend 5 minutes to write what they hope to gain from a course and what they will do to make those gains. Revisiting these goals in the middle and at the end of the course gives the student a chance to write and reflect about what worked well, what they could have done differently, and any new goals.

Knowledge Surveys

Create a list of questions that cover the concepts the students should know by the end of the module (or whole course) and ask them to indicate their confidence on each item (Wirth & Perkins 2005).

  1. I don’t know the answer
  2. I know some of the answer
  3. I know the answer, and would be comfortable being graded on this topic now

Students don’t attempt to actually answer the questions, this just gives them an overview of what will be covered and what they think they know at the start. Then, they re-answer the same survey after the module. This helps them learn to self-assess their skills, and you could share the aggregate data to help normalize where they are at. Incorporate multiple Bloom’s levels, if possible.

Homework wrappers

Similar to Knowledge Surveys, homework wrappers are given for each individual assignment, instead of pre/post module or course. “How quickly and easily can you solve problems that use X?” followed by “Now that you have completed this homework, how quickly and easily can you solve problems that use X?”

Concept Maps

Concept maps help students to organize their knowledge, and also give you a good gauge on how well they are connecting the dots. They could do these individually, or as a think-pair-share, or in bigger groups. If done individually, it shouldn’t take more then 10 minutes.