Creating Self-Regulated Learners

My goal for next year is to go whole hog into creating self-regulated learners next year. My main inspiration for this is Linda Nilson’s book Creating Self-Regulated Learners; my secondary inspiration was Robert Talbert, who put self-regulated learning on my radar with posts like this, and also for introducing me to Linda Nilson’s books.

In short, self-regulated learners employ metacognition and time-management skills to become better learners. I think that I previously have been wary about taking time away from mathematics to talk about such things, but I have recently decided that this is exactly what I need to do next. Here are a list of things I plan to do in all of my courses next year (mostly stolen from Nilson’s book):

  1. Have students read an article based on Carol Dweck’s ideas about growth mindsets and fixed mindsets
  2. Have students schedule their class time, work time, and health time (eating, showering, sleeping, etc) for their first two weeks on a calendar. Then have students schedule in study time. Then have students schedule in leisure time. Then hope that some students follow the schedule.
  3. Have the students complete something like the Metacognative Awareness Inventory as a pre- and post-test; have the students compare their pre-test results to their post-test results.
  4. Give knowledge surveys at the beginning and end of the semester. I think that these might be particularly useful (for selfish reasons) in my courses for elementary education majors, where some of my students have questioned whether they have learned anything. Having them compare their answers to “What does it mean to add two numbers?” or “What do we mean by ‘area’?” might help convince them that they have learned something (they learn other things, too, but these are two things that I think most of them agree they should know before they teach).
  5. Do pre-quiz assessments on how students are on a particular topic, followed by post-quiz assessments on they actually performed. On the post-quiz assessment, students will need to identify their mistake and develop a plan to avoid such mistakes in the future.
  6. Have students compose a list of three academic things they want to accomplish each day.
  7. Write a letter to their future selfs entitled “How I received an A for this class” (this is how Nilson titled it; I might change it to “How I was successful in this class”), which will include a detailed list of things they will do over the semester to be successful. I will keep a copy and give it to the students at the end of the semester to re-read and self-evaluate. Then…
  8. … have students compose letters to future students on how to be successful (which I can give to future students at the beginning of the semester).
  9. Finally, I have been extremely flexible with deadlines. My thinking was that students are adults, and I wanted to be respectful of their time; I also implicitly assumed that they would be able to manage their time. But, of course, there is a sizeable percentage of students who seem to struggle with this. Instead, I think that I might start setting hard deadlines (possibly with the grace period). I think I might figure out a way for the class to set the deadlines, though.

Suggestions on how to improve this list are welcome.

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6 Responses to “Creating Self-Regulated Learners”

  1. Pinky Says:

    Doing number 2 really helped me. Even if it doesn’t directly help with learning, it keeps a lot of stress at bay.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Number 2 is exactly the sort of thing that I would have scoffed at as a student, but exactly the sort of thing that would have helped me, too. I hated scheduling stuff up until about 10 years ago, but now I can’t do enough of it—it really helps!

  2. Joss Ives Says:

    One policy that I like is to use hard deadlines and give each student a fixed, but generous number of extension days to spend as they please.

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