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Friday, September 2, 2011

Can Students Learn to Learn?

Several articles I've read lately note that we sometimes focus on teaching/learning content to the exclusion of teaching students how to learn the content. Colleges have long recognized that some students need help in learning how to learn, but often the tools provided have been segregated from the "actual" coursework that students complete.

All this makes me wonder if I'm doing enough in my classes to help students learn? Add to that the plethora of teaching tools and techniques I read or hear about daily, and I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed by the possibilities! So many methods for improving learning are available, and it seems that I just don't have the time to do justice to it all! Then I wake from my nightmare and realize that we are all constrained by time and resources, and that even just a little step in class can do a lot to help students learn to learn.

I've blogged here before about an extra-credit project in my accounting classes. I don't typically provide extra credit for a variety of reasons, but this activity is sort of like disguising those yucky vegetables in fruit juice. You don't know how good it is for you when you drink it! I allow students to earn back a maximum of 15 points, 1 out of 2 points missed on each exam question, by demonstrating to me through calculations, examples, or description, that they do indeed understand the question they missed. They like it because it's extra credit, I like it because it encourages students to do something they should be doing to learn anyway.

This link leads to a recent article from Inside Higher Ed that outlines strategies for helping students. "News: Can Students Learn to Learn?" Some great ideas appear here!

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