Thursday, 6 June 2013

Skills training in relation to conceptions of knowledge and learning

"Metacognitive awareness and control,"  versus "quantitative accretion of discrete rightness."

Graham Gibbs writes interestingly about the usefulness or otherwise of study skills training in an short article in the last week's issue of THES: see here.

Students, "rarely use the methods they read about in how-to-study books or are taught on study skills courses" he asserts.  This is for a number of reasons he suggests (without expanding on this), but most importantly because:
"the skills may be too rigid to span the range of demands that students actually face."  
In any case, he argues, there is little evidence that the acquisition of study skills improves performance - with one exception: time management.

He suggests two things mark out effective students, in contrast to those who are "bewildered" or "unsophisticated".  These, he says,  are:
 "not about “skills” at all but about understanding.” 

Firstly, effective students are reflective and adapt their behaviours to different demands:
"Effective students can tell you all about how they go about their task, have a sensible rationale for doing so and change what they do when they notice that the context or task demands are different." 
In the educational literature, he tells us, this is known as "metacognitive awareness and control."

Secondly, effective students:
"understand the nature of knowledge and what they are supposed to do with it." 
This is in contrast to less effective students who try to spot the right answers in lectures, and memorise them - a method, described in the literature as, "quantitative accretion of discrete rightness."

Food for thought.

Further reading

Teaching intelligence - It is possible to avoid the negative mass effects

Teaching intelligence: Contact hours and student engagement

Raising awareness of best-practice pedagogy