Teach Students How to Learn Strategies You Can Incorporate Into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation
Co-published with NISOD
Miriam, a freshman Calculus student at Louisiana State University, made 37.5% on her first exam but 83% and 93% on the next two. Matt, a first year General Chemistry student at the University of Utah, scored 65% and 55% on his first two exams and 95% on his third. These are representative of thousands of students who decisively improved their grades by acting on the advice described in this book. What is preventing your students from performing according to expectations? Saundra McGuire offers a simple but profound answer: If you teach students how to learn and give them simple, straightforward strategies to use, they can significantly increase their learning and performance.
For over a decade Saundra McGuire has been acclaimed for her presentations and workshops on metacognition and student learning because the tools and strategies she shares have enabled faculty to facilitate dramatic improvements in student learning and success. This book encapsulates the model and ideas she has developed in the past fifteen years, ideas that are being adopted by an increasing number of faculty with considerable effect. The methods she proposes do not require restructuring courses or an inordinate amount of time to teach. They can often be accomplished in a single session, transforming students from memorizers and regurgitators to students who begin to think critically and take responsibility for their own learning.
Saundra McGuire takes the reader sequentially through the ideas and strategies that students need to understand and implement. First, she demonstrates how introducing students to metacognition and Bloom’s Taxonomy reveals to them the importance of understanding how they learn and provides the lens through which they can view learning activities and measure their intellectual growth. Next, she presents a specific study system that can quickly empower students to maximize their learning. Then, she addresses the importance of dealing with emotion, attitudes, and motivation by suggesting ways to change students’ mindsets about ability and by providing a range of strategies to boost motivation and learning; finally, she offers guidance to faculty on partnering with campus learning centers. She pays particular attention to academically unprepared students, noting that the strategies she offers for this particular population are equally beneficial for all students.
While stressing that there are many ways to teach effectively, and that readers can be flexible in picking and choosing among the strategies she presents, Saundra McGuire offers the reader a step-by-step process for delivering the key messages of the book to students in as little as 50 minutes. Free online supplements provide three slide sets and a sample video lecture. This book is written primarily for faculty but will be equally useful for TAs, tutors, and learning center professionals. For readers with no background in education or cognitive psychology, the book avoids jargon and esoteric theory.
Dedication Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Saundra’s journey. From traditional instructor to academic transformer 2. Why don’t our students already know how to learn? 3. Metacognition. What it is and how it helps students become independent learners 4. The power of teaching Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Study Cycle to students 5. Metacognitive learning strategies at work 6. Mindset matters 7. Connections between emotions, motivation, and learning 8. What faculty can do to boost motivation, positive emotions, and learning 9. What students can do to boost motivation, positive emotions, and learning 10. Partnering with your campus learning center 11. Teaching learning strategies to groups 12. Teaching unprepared students Epilogue- Experiment and have fun! Appendix A. Compilation of strategies for students Appendix B. Books and weblinks recommended for students Appendix C. Compilation of strategies for instructors Appendix D. Resources for presenting learning strategies to groups Appendix E. Learning strategies inventory Appendix F. Dramatic individual student improvement Appendix G. Selected student feedback Appendix H. Slides from Chemistry Presentation Appendix I. An Advanced Placement physics class References About the Authors Index
"This is one of my favorite books on meta-cognition and it's one that I recommend frequently... This one is canonical."
You’ve Got This Podcast, Episode 62
“Most students enter university unaware they must become active problem-solvers rather than passive receivers of information. Academics know this implicitly, but like most subject-matter experts, forget that students don’t share their knowledge. Challenging teachers to reject their assumption that students arrive at university prepared to learn—and convincing them to teach their students new ways of learning—is the goal of [this book]. Teach Students How to Learn provides method and motivation to become more effectively involved in helping your students succeed. ”
"It shouldn’t be surprising that a volume intent on teaching students how to learn is just as intent on teaching the reader how to do just that, but it is still refreshing to read a book that lays out its goals, sticks to the promises it makes, and even creates its own study guide based on how much time the reader has to give to the text. Well-structured and clear, Saundra Yancy McGuire’s Teach Students How to Learn is as thoughtful about itself as it is about the content it presents. McGuire has composed this book to reflect her own response to and engagement with a pressing problem in higher education: namely, that many students, even those who qualify for admission at prestigious institutions, arrive without ever having been taught to learn by anything but rote memorization. Faced with college’s demands of skills higher in Bloom’s Taxonomy, they find themselves struggling and even failing.
With this book McGuire gives teachers the tools they need to move their students past the high school model of retention until regurgitation, helping them instead to internalize a more nuanced, flexible understanding of learning. To convey this understanding, McGuire focuses on student mindset, encouraging educators to bring in everything from neurobiological models to fellow student success stories in order to help learners see that they are not stuck being 'bad' at something – that change is not only possible, but already well within reach.
Most of all, McGuire is a fun writer. Personal and plainspoken, her style makes the pages fly by. (Any worries that this book might drown the reader in jargon should be alleviated by the appearance of the words ‘metacognition, schmetacognition’. I would recommend this book in particular to educators working with students from underserved communities, as giving students access to these techniques will help ensure their success far beyond the boundaries of a single classroom.”
Reflective Teaching, Wabash Center
"I just wanted to write you a quick note to talk about how much I enjoyed your book Teach Students How to Learn. I work as the Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at the Faculty Center at my university. Every year I get to put on a Summer Teaching Institute for faculty. The theme that came out of much of the work we have been doing about High-Impact Practices and what we want to accomplish at the university centered on life-long learning and nurturing autonomy and agency in students. I wanted to make that the theme of the institute this year and in looking for materials I came across your book. I loved it and it is the book we are going to cover this summer. I think it will provide a wonderful road map for us as we try move past how best to teach information to our students into helping our students become better learners."
Matthew C. Atherton, Ph.D., California State University San Marcos
“Dr. McGuire’s book, Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation, is a must read for faculty, staff, students, and top administrators. Students are coming to college not knowing what to expect or how to handle the level of preparedness that is expected of them. The strategies in this book are not difficult to implement or to include in the instruction of early core classes or a freshman seminar class. The best or the least prepared students can learn from Dr. McGuire’s strategies.”
"For those interested in helping students develop strong metacognitive skills, Dr. Saundra McGuire’s book, Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate Into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation, is concise, practical, and much less overwhelming than trying to figure out what to do on your own. It is both a consolidation of the research surrounding metacognition, mindset, and motivation and a how-to guide for putting that research into practice."
Improve with Metacognition
“If you are already convinced – or are at least willing to consider the possibility – that your students could learn more deeply and achieve more success than they are at present, this book is for you. If you are frustrated by students who seem unmotivated and disengaged, this book is for you. If you find it challenging to teach underprepared students, this book is for you. And if you care about educational equity and fairness, this book is for you.
The not-so-familiar good news is that these same students can both survive and thrive in higher education. The message from relevant research is quite clear: What students do in college matters more than who they are or which institution they attend. What these underprepared students need most to do is to learn how to learn.
In this book, Saundra McGuire provides specific, practical, research-based strategies to teach students how to learn, focusing on the three key M’s – mindset, motivation, and metacognition.
The book offers a broad range of strategies for teachers and for students, along with a wealth of examples, illustrations, and resources.”
Thomas A. Angelo, Clinical Professor of Educational Innovation & Research, The Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education and Director of Educator Development, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
"This book is a wonderful resource for college faculty. It provides us with practical, yet powerful learning strategies and metacognition techniques that can be easily incorporated into our courses, and which in turn, will improve student learning. Dr. McGuire shares both research and her personal experiences, as well as her expertise in teaching all kinds of diverse students with tremendous success. This book is a welcome addition for the post secondary teaching and learning field and should be read and utilized by all."
Kathleen F. Gabriel, Associate Professor, School of Education, California State University, Chico
"Teachers need to learn as much as their students. In a masterly and spirited exposition, spangled with wit and exhortation, rife with pragmatic strategies, Saundra McGuire teaches teachers how to awake in their students the powers dormant in them. Be aware, and you will learn!"
Roald Hoffmann, 1981 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
"An electrifying book! McGuire demonstrates how learning strategies can improve learning—and then charges faculty to teach them, complete with the slides for doing so in your class. . . A must read—and must do—for every teacher who struggles with students who don’t learn as much as they could or should!"
Tara Gray, Ph.D., Director, The Teaching Academy
“Dr. McGuire's specific strategies serve me as paradigms I can adapt for my literature courses. Many of the specific exercises McGuire uses to illustrate metacognition quickly convinced my students that cognitive functions such as pattern recognition effectively guide the close reading of a text while taking time to overview a text and place it in context helps more advanced students take on the challenges of literary theory. The strategies outlined here take away the mystery, not the magic, of writing about literature.”
Helen Whall, Professor of English and Director of Comprehensive Academic Advising, College of the Holy Cross
“Based on solid scientific theory and real classroom case studies, Dr. McGuire’s workshop on Metacognition provides the participants with sound pedagogical advice and an impressive array of ready-to-use, result oriented teaching techniques for a 21st century classroom. With a metacognitive approach to teaching and learning, everything comes together.”
Irina Ivliyeva, Associate Professor of Russian, Missouri University of Science and Technology
“I believe The Study Cycle handout was particularly useful because it provided a helpful step-by-step approach for students to learn the material in a class more effectively. Moreover, it is a good way to place the accountability for student success where it belongs—on the shoulders of the students (with professors providing guidance and support for their learning).”
Larry Gragg, Curators’ Teaching Professor and Chair, Department of History and Political Science, Read, Write, PERFECT
“It is incredibly important to make sure your home schooler has access to quality curricula—regardless of whether you are doing traditional home schooling, unit home schooling, unschooling, or some combination of the above.
However, one area of study that is frequently neglected in home schooling programs is the systematic development of study skills to support independent learning. While many students—and especially those following less traditional home schooling paths—such as unschooling—develop these skills organically as an adjunct to their content explorations, understanding that they have them and why they work is an essential component when it comes to transitioning students to college-level learning.
Teach Students How to Learn and Teach Yourself How to Learn are companion volumes: the second covers the same material as the first, but for a readership of students rather than instructors. Both volumes are extremely effective at providing practical and concrete techniques for improving study habits and learning mindsets. McGuire’s insights are based on both rigorous educational research and years of experience as a learning support specialist.
At first glance, Saundra McGuire’s books might not seem like an obvious choice for homeschooling parents and students. The books are designed with college undergraduate students and their faculty in mind, and are designed to help students understand the skills that will result in better college performance. However, McGuire’s books are invaluable to home schoolers because they provides the whys and hows for the most important homeschooling skill out there: independent learning and thinking.”
Jennifer Harrison, Read, Write, PERFECT