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This week's post is about the secret strategy of successful students: self-regulated learning.
The term strategy refers not just to the learning technique, but to the entire process from setting a goal to achieving it: you may have a good learning technique, adapted to the material, but lose motivation along the way. Or you may not have good time management and fail to achieve your goal.
Self-regulated learning has 3 components: will, skill, and reflection.
Motivation is the internal process that gives behaviour its energy and direction. When cultivating the will, there are two mistakes one can make:
1. Setting a target too far away. For example, if the goal you set is to finish uni, motivation will decrease along the way. But if your goal is to finish your next essay, or study one topic for your next exam, it suddenly becomes much more manageable.
2. Neglecting the goal you have set and falling prey to disturbances.
The key is not to lose track of the small goals that lead you towards the bigger goal.
When in comes to skill, there are 3 types of strategies: learning strategies, environmental strategies, and behavioural strategies.
Learning strategies are the methods you use to acquire knowledge. Underlining and re-reading are the least effective methods, and should ideally be replaced by retrieval practice techniques, as described in the previous email. If you still find it hard to abandon underlining though, try turning the chapter title into a question. Then underline only what constitutes an answer to the question.
Environmental strategies: (1) establish a space for study where you are least likely to be disturbed and (2) try to work out when you need to work alone and when you need help: a partner, a teacher or an extra book or other more appropriate resource.
Behavioral strategies: Time management is the most important of the behavioural strategies. Educators have found that there is a direct relationship between time management and academic achievement. Students who manage their time well also perform better.
An important step to becoming a smart learner is the ability to monitor your knowledge acquisition, recognise when something has gone wrong and do something to improve the situation. Self-observation and self-judgment are mandatory for improvement to happen.
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Self Regulated Learning: The Technique that Smart Students use!