Metacognition – Understanding How You Learn
About this Skill
This lesson plan has five lessons that help students understand how they learn and how to improve their learning. This includes:
- The benefits of strengthening our metacognition;
- The science of how our brains change when we learn, and why it’s important to actively work with new information in order to master it;
- Understanding preferred learning styles;
- What research shows about the big role sleep and exercise play in learning, and why multitasking and cramming are not productive;
- The value of a growth mindset.
Consider scheduling these lessons early in the semester, after the Syllabus Reading and Time Management lessons. Most of these five lessons take between about 25 and 45 minutes. They are meant to be used along with your course material.
You can choose what to use. Science instructors may want to use all the lessons; non-science instructors may decide to use some of these lessons.
The lessons are built around selected chapters from The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with Your Brain by Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek. It’s a short, readable textbook that can be used with any discipline
Students will be able to:
- Define “metacognition.”
- Identify at least three misconceptions that can be limiting—about themselves and whether they belong in college, their field, and/or how people learn.
Lesson 1: Introduction to the Science of Learning
(About 25 minutes, including a 7-minute video)
- Introduction – 5 minutes
- Reflecting on Our Beliefs – About 15 minutes
- Homework – 2 minutes to assign reading from The New Science of Learning, and quiz questions.
Lesson 2: Learning and Your Brain
(This can be as short as 10 minutes to discuss the previous homework assignment and give students the new homework, or about 45 minutes if you use all slides/activities. See options.)
- Quiz/Homework Review – 5 minutes
- Video (Optional, graphically depicts neural pathways in brain) – 2 minutes
- A-Mazed Activity – 20-25 minutes (Optional, students experience how the brain changes with practice)
- Lecture/Discussion – 10 minutes (Optional detail about the brain and nervous system; geared to science students)
- Homework – 5 minutes to explain learning styles survey
Lesson 3: Understanding Your Learning Style
(About 40 – 45 minutes)
- Visual/Aural/Reading-Writing/Kinetic (VARK) Strategies – 10 minutes
- Scenarios Small Group Activity – 30 minutes
- Homework – 3 minutes to assign reading from The New Science of Learning, and sleep/ exercise log.
Lesson 4: How Sleep and Exercise Affect Your Learning
(About 30 minutes)
- VARK Check-in – 5 minutes
- Homework Discussion – 10 minutes
- Pair and Share Discussions – Sleep and Exercise – 10 minutes
- Stretching (Optional) 2 minutes
- Homework – 3 minutes
Lesson 5: Memory, Mindsets & Attention
(About 50 minutes)
- Homework Discussion and Activities – 20 minutes
- Growth Mindset Activity – 20 minutes
- Wrap-Up – 10 minutes