“Stanford researcher creates a 15-minute hack that can turn your child's B+ grade into a strong A” — Daily Mail (10 May 2017)
This headline reflects what every student badly wants — a master plan that would turn him into a topper. However, while all good students put in their heart and soul into preparing for examinations, it is only a handful who manage to emerge as toppers. But, why so?
The above headline refers to a study by Chen et al titled, ‘Strategic Resource Use for Learning: A Self-Administered Intervention That Guides Self-Reflection on Effective Resource Use Enhances Academic Performance’, published in Psychological Science (2017). In their study, the authors proposed that, “making students more self-reflective about how they should approach their learning with the resources available to them would improve their class performance.”
A similar study was also conducted by Bartimote-Aufflick et al titled, ‘The study, evaluation, and improvement of university student self-efficacy’, and published in the journal, Studies in Higher Education (2016). The researchers found that there was a strong association between self-efficacy and student learning outcome. The study also mentioned that self-efficacy was related to important factors such as self-regulation and metacognition.
So, you see, the key to converting those B+s to As lies in self-reflection, self-regulation and metacognition, which is nothing but self-awareness.
What is metacognition
As far as students are concerned, metacognition is all about how much a child is aware of his level of understanding of a subject or topic. This self-awareness plays a critical role in helping a child understand what he needs to learn and how he should learn.
Once a child self-reflects, he can come up with learning strategies to suit his needs. One of the learning strategies that a child can employ to improving his learning is self-regulated learning (SRL).
What is SRL
Linda B Nilson, PhD, defines self-regulated learning in her article, ‘The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning’, published in Faculty Focus. According to her, “Self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it.”
SRL abilities develop gradually, beginning during childhood and continuing into adolescence. Therefore, parents, and teachers, should make it a point to introduce their child to SRL at the earliest.
How can a child engage in SRL
The factors that make SRL a successful approach can be divided into three broad categories: Behavioural, Personal and Environmental. Each of these three categories are further divided into subcategories. Let’s look at each of them in detail.
1. Behavioural: This includes –
(a) Self-evaluation: Asking questions to evaluate oneself can help a child understand a lot of things. Some of the questions that a child should ask herself are:
- What do I want?
- How am I progressing?
- What do I find the most challenging?
- Am I doing what my teacher wants me to do?
- What study habits suit me the best?
(b) Self-consequences: Consequences play an important role in motivating a child to improve. Two important self-consequences that a child should learn are:
- Self-reward: Treating herself to something good (like a word of self-appreciation) for succeeding in achieving her goals
- Self-punishment: Delaying gratification for not achieving her objectives
Along with these, a child should also engage in self-reinforcement to encourage herself.
2. Personal: This involves the doing the following -
(a) Organising and transforming information: To improve her learning experience, a child should
- Highlight, summarise and outline important information
- Prepare flash cards, charts and diagrams
(b) Setting goals and planning:
- First set goals for self
- Then, plan the sequence, timing and pace at which to complete the steps to achieve the goals
(c) Seeking information:
- Listen attentively to the teacher’s lecture and read the chapters in the textbook
- Also, collect information from the Internet or from books available in the library
(d) Keeping records and monitoring:
- Take notes
- Maintain a list of errors made
- Keep a track of marks obtained to monitor progress
(e) Rehearsing and memorising:
- Practise by writing or teaching someone
- Review notes
- Use mnemonic devices like rhymes, acronyms, phrases and so on
3. Environmental: This includes seeking assistance from those around and rearranging the surrounding environment to aid in learning. This is done in the following ways:
(a) Seeking social assistance:
- First, identify the problem at hand
- Then, identify and seek help from those who can be of help like peers, teachers or parents
(b) Rearranging the environment:
- Schedule study timings and breaks
- Eliminate distractions, for example, turn off the phone and TV, study in a room with the door closed and so on
It has been established beyond doubt that involvement of parents in their child’s education plays a crucial role in his academic success. Establishing routines, teaching the child various strategies to study better, and providing him with the resources are some of the things that every parent should do. Like all other strategies for effective learning, SRL also produces the best result when a child is initiated into it right from early childhood.
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