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Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate Into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation

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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.

ISBN-13: 9781620363164

Publisher: Stylus Publishing

Publication Date: 10-13-2015

Pages: 288

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Saundra Yancy McGuire has been teaching chemistry and working in the area of learning and teaching support for over forty-five years. In 2007, she was recognized for excellence in mentoring with a Presidential Award presented in a White House Oval Office Ceremony. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations. In 2013 she retired as assistant vice chancellor and professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, and in 2017 she was inducted into the LSU College of Science Hall of Distinction. She is now Director Emerita of the LSU Center for Academic Success, which was named the National College Learning Center Association outstanding learning center in 2004. Saundra has presented her widely acclaimed faculty development workshops at over 300 institutions in eight countries. Saundra received her B.S. degree, magna cum laude, from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, her Master’s degree from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she received the Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Professional Promise. Thomas Angelo is 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. Dr. Angelo is known for his efforts in the development of faculty, curriculum and academic planning. Dr. Angelo began teaching in the late 1970’s and since then has worked in various academic capacities at many U.S. institutions including, DePaul University, The University of Miami, Boston College, University of California-Berkeley and Harvard University. Besides teaching, Dr. Angelo has been involved in numerous research projects and seminars in classroom studies and assessment strategies. He founded the Academic Development Center at Boston College, the Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Akron, as well as the School for New Learning Assessment Center at DePaul University. While he served as the Founding Director of the Academic Development Center at Boston College, he co-authored Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers with K. Patricia Cross and later published a second edition in 1993. Dr. Angelo graduated from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education with a Doctorate in Education in 1987. He currently serves as the Pro Vice Chancellor of Curriculum and Academic Planning at Latrobe University, Australia and before that was the Director of the University Teaching Development Center at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Stephanie McGuire holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, master’s and doctoral degrees in neuroscience from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree in opera performance from the Longy Conservatory. She attended Oxford on a Marshall scholarship and received a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation. At the Longy Conservatory, she received the Victor Rosenbaum medal, given yearly to the most outstanding graduate of the conservatory. Partly as a result of long and stimulating conversations with her mother about pedagogy and learning strategies, Stephanie became a highly sought-after private academic tutor in the New York City area where she lived for ten years. By coauthoring this book, she is delighted to contribute to Dr. Saundra McGuire’s admirable and revolutionary mission to make all students expert learners. Since graduating from conservatory, Stephanie has enjoyed forging a successful career as a classical mezzo-soprano. She has performed with the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, with the Boston POPS Orchestra in Symphony Hall, and several times at Carnegie Hall. She now lives in Berlin.

Table of Contents


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


About the Authors