Metacognition: Top 3’s for Test-Prep Classes

Teaching English for specific purposes like tests uses different teaching strategies and approaches than a typical language class. Students are under quite a bit of pressure and are motivated by results. If teachers spend time getting students to think about their performance, I will call this metacognitive awareness, students will notice their own improvement rather than ask the teacher whether they are improving.

Metacognitive Skills

Based on an article by Connie Malamed, here are some metacognitive skills that are highly relevant and necessary in a test-prep class:
  1. Choosing to skim subheadings of unimportant information to get to the information you need. 
  2. Repeatedly rehearsing a skill in order to gain proficiency. 
  3. Periodically doing self-tests to see how well you learned something. 

Metacognitive Strategies

To help your students learn how to learn, and notice their own improvement, teachers can incorporate these strategies into their lessons. Then, encourage students to use them outside of class when learning at home. I have selected only a few; for the full list, please visit this link. In addition to these strategies, I have added an in-class task relative to test-prep classes you can implement.
  1. Foster Self-reflection. Emphasize the importance of personal reflection during and after learning experiences. Encourage learners to critically analyze their own assumptions and how this may have influenced their learning. Analyzing common errors made when answering questions, or reflecting on background knowledge about topics are examples of classroom tasks. 
  2. Encourage Self-questioning. Foster independent learning by asking learners to generate their own questions and answer them to enhance comprehension. Teach the question types and then have students create questions for other students. Students can also reflect on what was successful about their question design deepening their understanding of test strategies. 
  3. Provide Opportunities for Making Errors. When learners are given the opportunity to make errors while in training, such as during simulations, it stimulates reflection on the causes of their errors. Keeping an error log and rewarding the most errors corrected is one way to motivate students. 
References
Malamed, Connie. Metacognition And Learning: Strategies For Instructional Design. The elearning Coach. http://theelearningcoach.com/learning/metacognition-and-learning/

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