Encourage Students to Reflect, Understand, Plan

Productive Pauses Drive Learning

Somehow it is already November, far into the fall season. Moving closer to Thanksgiving and the end of the year can bring reflection to the self-aware. Reflection can come in many colors and flavors, not all of them helpful. Cultivating intentional, productive reflection now gives students the best opportunity to assess their work so far so that they can, with lessons learned, do well on their final exams, papers, and projects.


As the metacognitive cycle shows, three active phases support effective, lasting learning: Planning, monitoring, and evaluating. As powerful as planning and monitoring may be, they are incomplete without the reflection—a pause—in the evaluation stage: "What do I know? What confuses me still? What am I able, and not able, to do right now?" Where did I drop the ball? Reflection and evaluation leads to changes that fuel more effective planning, leading to an upward spiral of learning improvement. However, students often wait until a week before finals to dip a toe into reflection, and if what they don't know weighs too heavy at that point, it can demotivate and disrupt their preparation. 


Coaches can challenge students to reflect now, while there is still time to act on what they learn from the reflection and evaluation. Before your students check out for a much-needed Thanksgiving break, take time to encourage them to think about their status as a learner in their coursework, with questions like these:

  • If you were to take the final exam next week, which chapters/topics would you know well, and which would be shaky?

  • What can you do now to shore up what you don't yet understand or know how to do?

  • Whom can you consult to further your understanding?

  • Looking at past exams in this course, what worked and didn't work for you in your study process?

  • What one change do you plan to make in your study process when you prepare for your final exam?

  • Of your final papers and projects, which do you least want to leave until the last second -- and what can you do to get started before you begin to panic?

Provide yourself a chance to reflect on your own terrific work, and grow it further, with LifeBound training. December features a three-day training in a different time frame, three consecutive weekdays with a weekend in between -- December 14, 15, and 18. The Spring 2024 certification cohort for those who've completed the three-day training begins in January. 

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