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Education is a girl’s best friend…

Research suggests that students who engage in Meta-Cognitive strategies achieve greater academic success compared to other students. Meta-Cognition put simply is ‘thinking about your thinking’, but in actuality it is also reflecting on your learning processes. Meta-Cognitive strategies can be as simple as reflecting on how well you understood the lesson, writing down any difficult concepts or questions you're left with and thinking about how to address the gap in your knowledge.

Try using this three part method for developing good Meta-Cognition that is based on Flavell’s (1979, 1987) work and still relevant today:

Part One: GATHER KNOWLEDGE RELEVANT TO ACADEMIC TASKS

a) Person variables. Your perception of how you learn and what things influence your learning. An example may be ‘I have a bad memory for biology’ or ‘I am easily distracted by noises’. Ask yourself: What are my strengths and weaknesses in this area? What things are likely going to impact my performance? What is my learning style and needs?

b) Task variables. Your perception of how difficult or easy the task is and how likely you are to complete the task. An example may be ‘The topic of neuro-psychology is difficult to learn and complex.’ Ask yourself: What are the demands of the task? How long will the task take to complete? What am I actually being asked to do?

c) Strategy variables. Various strategies for learning are available to you and you will favour one approach over another for particular academic tasks. An example may be ‘If I make smaller diagrams on cards it will help me learn the detail of the brain better’. Ask yourself: What strategies will help? Have I had success with similar tasks and what strategies were helpful then?

Part Two: MONITOR THE PROCESS OF LEARNING

Ask yourself: Why is this section important to highlight? What questions am I left with after that class? How well did I understand the teachings? What process am I using to get an outcome? What aspects of this topic am I still finding confusing? Is the strategy that I’m using working well? Do I need to change strategy to get a better learning outcome?

Part Three: EVALUATE STRATEGIES USED AND LEARNING ACHIEVEMENTS

Ask yourself: How well did I compete the task? What would I do differently in hindsight? Did I learn a lot here?

Here are some useful strategies that you might like to try:

  • Use ‘Mnemonics’ to help you organise your thoughts and remember detail.
  • Reading out loud increases the likelihood of you remembering things and thinking out loud is a great Meta-Cognitive strategy that gets you reflecting on how you are going.
  • Use learning logs and thinking journals as Meta-Cognitive strategies.
  • Create an ‘Infographic’ to summarise complex constructs or ideas.
  • Read a small section of the text then put it aside and summarise it in your own words. This way you can assess how much you are really taking in during reading time and it helps you reflect on how well you are understanding the text.
  • Test yourself with sample exams, questions on flash cards, or try explaining the topic to a family member or friend who is not studying the same subject (or hasn't for a while).
  • Concept maps are useful ways to break a complex construct into chunks and summarise / simplify the information. Start to draw the concept map without referring to references material, than later fill in the gaps from the text.

Melbourne Centre for Women’s Mental Health offer a range of options for those wanting to understand their learning style and develop better study skills. 

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Book in with one of our experienced Psychologists if you need special assistance with Anxiety or Depression that may be impacting your studies.

Deepen your understanding of your particular learning style with our Psychologist Toni who has specialised training in Clinical Neuropsychology. Toni can arrange for a cognitive assessment and provide you with your own individualised set of recommendations.

Skocic, S. 2019