|Effective Educational Practices (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 2000, 24 p.)|
Giving students some choice in their learning goals and teaching them to be attentive to their progress yield learning gains.
In the 1980s, cognitive research on teaching sought ways to encourage self-monitoring, self-teaching or 'meta-cognition' to foster achievement and independence. Skills are important, but the learner's monitoring and management of his or her own learning have primacy. This approach transfers part of the direct teaching functions of planning, allocating time and review to learners. Being aware of what goes on in one's mind during learning is a critical first step to effective independent learning.
Some students have been found to lack this self-awareness and must be taught the skills necessary to monitor and regulate their own learning. Many studies have demonstrated that positive effects can accrue from developed skills.
In the classroom
Students with a repertoire of learning strategies can measure their own progress towards explicit goals. When students use these strategies to strengthen their opportunities for learning, they simultaneously increase their skills of self-awareness, personal control and positive self-evaluation.
Three possible phases of teaching about learning strategies include:
1. Modelling, in which the teacher exhibits the desired behaviour;
2. Guided practice, in which students perform with help from the teacher; and
3. Application, during which students act independently of the teacher.
As an example, a successful programme of 'reciprocal teaching' fosters reading comprehension by having students take turns in leading dialogues on pertinent features of texts. By assuming the roles of planning and monitoring ordinarily exercised by teachers, students learn self-management. Perhaps that is why tutors learn from tutoring, and why it is said: 'To learn something well, teach it.'
References: Haller, Child & Walberg, 1988; Palincsar & Brown, 1984; Pearson, 1985; Walberg & Haertel, 1997.