33 How You Think Is Just as Important as What You Think About

A photo of Michael Starbird
Figure 33.1: Michael Starbird

Michael Starbird

Metacognition is thinking about thinking. Students don’t often think about thinking. But they need to learn how. One good way to get students to consider how they are thinking as well as what they are thinking about is to give them brief daily or weekly self-assessment assignments. Ask them to take a few minutes at the end of class, or at the end of the week, to answer questions such as these:

  • What did I learn today (or this week)?
  • What questions do I still have about what we did in class today (or this week)?
  • How does the new information you have learned relate to other things I know?
  • What helped me learn today (or this week)?
  • What got in the way of my learning?
  • When I start my homework for the next class, what should I take from today’s lesson?
  • Are there ways to apply what I am learning in this class to other classes or situations?
What helped me learn today?

Have students keep these metacognitive assessments in a notebook that they keep with them in class. From time to time, in the middle of class, ask them to take these notebooks out and scribble in them for five minutes. Use what they write to talk about how to think critically, what gets in the way of critical thinking, and how they can improve.

A photo of UT Dallas campus with overlayed text reading, "Is teaching beyond the classroom important?"
Figure 33.2: UT Dallas
A photo of Michael Starbird
Figure 33.3: Michael Starbird

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