“Why don’t most students know how to learn?” MC holds presentation on Metacognition

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Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire discusses metacognition

Most students consider acing their final exams to be the ultimate objective of the semester, but their professors’ goal is that they retain the information after the exam. For Louisiana State University Professor Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire, actually learning the course material, rather than simply studying for a grade, is the driving force behind “Metacognition.”

“[Students] didn’t have to study in high school, they didn’t have to go to class, they didn’t have to pay attention.” Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire, Louisiana State University Professor”

“Metacognition involves your ability to analyze your thinking.” said Dr. McGuire, who spoke to a group of roughly 30 Montgomery College faculty members on Friday, March 8 in the Rockville campus Technical Center. “It’s analyzing ‘How am I learning? What do I need to do to learn this information? And what strategies will be more effective for me?’”

According to Dr. McGuire, the basis of students’ lack of critical thinking comes from their previous schooling. In her presentation, Dr. McGuire highlighted the fact that over 60 percent of college freshmen spent less than six hours per week doing homework in high school. “I believe that students are behaving in a way that is consistent with their past experiences,” Dr. McGuire said. “They didn’t have to study in high school, they didn’t have to go to class, they didn’t have to pay attention.”

A majority of the professors in attendance agreed that student and faculty course expectations were drastically different. “We need to be more clear in our expectations of the students in terms of what we expect them to learn,” Chemistry Professor Laura Anna said. “Being more detailed. Giving more explicit explanations, making expectations more clear, and helping them understand how they can learn better.”

“How the faculty perceives the way that students gauge [course material] is quite different from the student perception,” MC Dean of Science Dr. Eun-Woo Chang said. “And so we are utilizing this technique to see whether students will learn better, and we use the gap between the perception of students…and the faculty perception about the learning gains of students.”

Living in an age where the entire Internet is available in a student’s pocket does not make the process any easier. With the freedom of the Internet and all its resources comes a whole host of distractions as well. “I think that, in general, technology has been detrimental to learning because it has allowed people to always stay connected to Facebook or texting. So they are doing a lot less reflecting about what they are learning and they are just a lot more distracted,” Dr. McGuire said. “Now, having said that, it doesn’t have to be that technology is detrimental. Technology can be very instrumental in improving learning.”

“People link to websites like Kahn Academy.” “There’s so many resources out there now that you can get to through technology that would improve learning. It’s just that people devote the time to doing it, and using technology in the proper way.”

For more information on learning strategies, Dr. McGuire has recommended the following sites: