by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson
Dr. Eithne Hunt, registered Occupational Therapist and lecturer in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at University College Cork, Ireland, includes one of Marcus Conyers’ and my strategies in an article for first-year students.
I found this article a good read and imagine that it could be of great interest for students when they first leave home and go off to college. In this piece, Dr. Hunt references our BrainSMART strategy “Explain It to Your Brain” as a way to assist students to become more metacognitive.
She summarizes our strategy as follows: “Students who use self-explanation tell themselves what they are thinking and doing when learning, a strategy closely related to metacognition, which is a characteristic of successful student learning and of professional success across careers.”
Our BrainSMART Strategy: Explain It to Your Brain
One creative way for teachers to support to get student engagement in the process of developing effective learning strategies is to apply a metaphor Marcus Conyers and I call “explain it to your brain.” Students who use self-explanation tell themselves what they are thinking and doing when learning. This strategy is closely related to metacognition, a characteristic of successful student learning and of professional success across careers.
A favorite way to teach this skill is by modeling self-explanation aloud across contexts in the classroom. For example, when working at the board in math class, you might pose a question like, “How might I solve this algebra problem?” Then you could begin to talk through the problem aloud so that students can learn from your modeling how to engage in self-dialogue when problem solving, reading, or performing other learning tasks. After students have experienced your modeling across various examples, give them opportunities to use this strategy aloud, too. Over time, the goal is for students to use this tool silently and independently.
A number of key cognitive strategies are involved in the process of self-explanation, including integrating new information with prior knowledge, generating inferences when there’s missing information, and monitoring and fixing faulty knowledge. Students can self-explain when they problem solve as a way to help them decide how to proceed to a solution.
To learn about this strategy, read our article on the topic at the Edutopia site.
To read Dr. Eithne Hunt’s thoughtful article and see her original context for using our strategy, visit the University College Cork’s site.