Fourth formers learning to learn : an experiment in enhancing classroom learning strategies
Type of content
Recent official support for learning to learn as a goal of education is discussed, and the research evidence for enhancing students' learning metacognition as the means to that end reviewed. Metacognition is defined. The research indicates that effective self-directed learning depends in large part upon the learner's perceptions of her/himself as a learner, of what learning is, and upon control of the learning processes in any given situation through the use of strategies. Metacognition delivers the strategies. Also supported is the view that such metacognition and strategic learning can be taught. In an intervention study, four classes of average fourth form students of comparable ability at two city co-educational high schools were taught the same subject topic within the same time frame. While an experimental group of two classes (one from each school) was taught both the topic and how to control and direct their learning within it, the control group made up of the other two classes was taught the topic content and skills without such facilitation. Pre- and post-treatment comparisons showed that while both groups made gains in knowledge and skills of the topic, the experimental group significantly out-performed their control counterparts. Also, - upon a measure of metacognitive learning skill, the experimental group had made considerable gains, whereas the control group remained static. The conclusion was reached that the facilitation of learning skill received by the experimental group produced their greater success upon the topic test. The implications of the study for schools, teachers as individuals, and the education system are discussed, and some recommendations made.