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Prepare: To prepare for this discussion, watch the 2:41 video on Youtube (link will be uploaded in comments) and review how to decode from Chapter 3, Section 3.3 in your book (Chapter attached below).Reflect: Think about the different jobs you’ve held. These can include volunteer work or managing your home or family responsibilities full-time. Reflect on the tasks or responsibilities you had.Write: Pick one position you’ve held and address the following in a minimum of 250 words:List the title and briefly describe the job. For example, “I have worked as a Special Education Instructional Aide at an elementary school from 2008 to now. As a 1-on-1 Instructional Aide, I provide personalized attention to the student and help them with social and academic skill development.”Describe the three tasks or responsibilities you most enjoyed. Decode each task or responsibility that you listed by identifying the Learning Pattern(s) required to successfully complete it.Describe the three tasks or responsibilities you least enjoyed. Decode each task or responsibility that you listed by identifying the Learning Pattern(s) required to successfully complete it.Consider all the tasks or responsibilities required of the job. Knowing what you know now about Learning Patterns, was (or is) this job a good match for your Patterns? Why or why not? Remind us of your Learning Patterns by listing the level of use.**PLAGIARISM will NOT be accepted. Write in your own words.
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Taking Charge of Your
Learning
Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Thinkstock
“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”
—Albert Einstein (as cited in Brian, 1996, p. 129)
Learning Outcomes
After reading this chapter, you should be able to
• Explain the difference between general study skills and personal learning strategies.
• Describe how using metacognition helps you become a more intentional learner.
• Decode assignment instructions.
• FIT your Learning Patterns to a specific assignment.
• Create a personal strategy card.
3
Section 3.1
The Importance of Studying With Intention
3.1 The Importance of Studying With Intention
Studying is the key to succeeding as a student; however, when it comes to which study techniques to use, there is no “one size fits all.” This chapter focuses on how you can develop a
specific set of learning behaviors and strategies just for you. In this chapter, you will learn
to use techniques based on your Learning Patterns and metacognition. Specifically, you will
learn how to analyze directions, match your Patterns to each aspect of an assignment, and use
your internal talk to guide the development of responses that demonstrate your growth as an
intentional learner.
The desire to invest yourself in developing personal learning techniques comes from your
belief that your effort will yield both tangible rewards—supportive feedback, good grades,
and academic recognition—and intangible rewards—a feeling of achievement, a sense of
pride, and a mindset that encourages you to take on even greater learning challenges.
What happens if you don’t make the effort to study with intention? In this section, you will
meet three adult learners who demonstrate what can happen when we do not develop personal strategies. Their decisions—as well as your own—will ultimately determine their
growth and transformation into intentional learners.
Vincent
AndreyPopov/iStock/Thinkstock
Vincent procrastinates into the night because he
does not want to sit down and compose the essay
that is due. How can he remedy this?
Vincent’s assignment is due tomorrow.
He meant to start it at the beginning
of the week but kept putting it off. He
heads to his “study corner” and sits
down to work but quickly realizes he
has no real idea what he is supposed to
be doing. Besides, after receiving feedback on the last assignment, he doubts
he can be successful on this one. He
thought he had done exactly what the
assignment called for, but his grade
suggested otherwise.
Vincent decides to take a break and
check his e-mail. He then rereads
some of the assigned text and goes
back to staring glumly at the screen
before getting something cold to drink. Vincent works the rest of the evening and late into
the night, attempting to do what could be finished in 90 minutes or less. He eventually stops,
not because his work is finished, but because he feels tired and can’t stand to think about the
assignment any longer.
Vincent as a Learner
Consciously, Vincent wants to do his work; unconsciously, his procrastination and lack of
drive to start the assignment lead him to believe he is incapable of doing it well. Vincent suffers from a fixed mindset. “This is going to take me ages,” he thinks. “I hate writing even if it’s
The Importance of Studying With Intention
Section 3.1
just one paragraph. My thoughts seem on target when I think them in my head, but they never
look right once I put them on paper.” Vincent goes through the motions of studying using generalized study skills rather than personalized study strategies. He has set aside a quiet space
for studying—which is great—but this alone does not help him wrap his mind around the
specific learning task at hand. As a result, he gets tired, gives up, and ends the evening having
reinforced his fixed mindset—in other words, the belief that he’s not cut out for this kind of
assignment. His stress builds.
Are You Vincent?
Vincent (S17, P20, TR32, C22)




Cari
Rarely asks for help; instead, he hides behind his need to appear self-sufficient.
Is a person of few written words but very articulate when speaking one-on-one.
Is very practical and seeks to “fix” a situation using his own approach to problem
solving.
Believes that he:
• Doesn’t have enough to say to meet the assignment’s requirements.
• Could get the assignment done if he wasn’t so constricted by having to write an
essay using American Psychological Association (APA) formatting and a specific
number of words.
Cari is a conscientious student. Between her family responsibilities, her schooling, and her
work, she runs a tight schedule so she doesn’t miss a deadline or post an assignment that has
errors. First, she hurries to get a meal
on the table for her two sons, listening
intently to them talk about their day.
She then checks their homework and,
finally, gets them settled in bed, with
just enough time left for her to get to
her own homework.
Cari carefully reads the directions for
the assignment, but she is concerned
because she doesn’t understand what
she is being asked to do. The same thing
happened with the last assignment,
and she ended up guessing rather than
g-stockstudio/iStock/Thinkstock
knowing what the expectations were.
Cari is a perfectionist. Which Learning Pattern do
Cari cringes as she remembers the
you think is Use First for her?
feedback she received; the instructor
suggested that she use fewer words,
select words more carefully for greater
clarity, and provide more support from her sources.
The clock is ticking, but Cari’s mind isn’t. She reads and rereads the assignment directions.
She needs to get started, but her fear of failure holds her back, resulting in a fixed mindset.
Midnight is approaching, and she has yet to make real progress. Panic sets in.
Section 3.1
The Importance of Studying With Intention
Cari as a Learner
Cari is a perfectionist; she is stuck in the classic “be perfect” mode that affects learners who
are taught early in life that success in school means getting good grades. Cari is convinced that
mistakes are to be avoided at all costs because they reveal one’s shortcomings and inabilities.
As a result, Cari is gridlocked in a fixed mindset. Like Vincent, she is losing valuable time
debating whether to do what she thinks is expected or do nothing at all. Because she is unsure
of what is expected of her, she hesitates to start the task at hand. Eventually, Cari hesitantly
begins to work but then deletes what she has done. She has no sense of intention and is losing
her desire to study as she unproductively spins her wheels.
Are You Cari?
Cari (S23, P29, TR16, C18)





Wants to please the instructor by showing what she knows.
Reads the syllabus and weekly requirements but can get tangled in the specifics and
has anxiety about whether she is doing things correctly.
Gathers lots of information but worries whether it is the right information and
whether she has enough of it.
Finds it difficult to edit her own work because she has taken time to select each
word so carefully.
Fears being wrong and is afraid that she will not express her thoughts clearly or
accurately.
Duane
Duane is an active-duty Marine but
will soon be transitioning to civilian
life. He is a “can-do” person and sees
himself as a multitasker—someone
with a number of balls in the air at all
times. He is quick on his feet, straightforward, and deliberate. You always
know where you stand when you work
with Duane. Some would describe him
as a force to be reckoned with.
Tonight, Duane sits at his desk with his
computer and all his assigned course
Duane completes his assignment with certainty
materials. He has the same assignand confidence, but that does not mean he fully
ment as Vincent and Cari and the same
understands it or completes it correctly. What kind
deadline looming. Like them, he finds
of a learner is Duane?
the assignment’s directions unclear.
But unlike them, he is driven. Duane is
confident enough to move forward with his own interpretation of the assignment. He has not
read the feedback on his most recent assignment; he wants to look forward, not backward.
Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock
Duane completes the assignment in less than an hour and posts it even though the instructor’s directions suggest that students reread their work and double-check that it meets the
Using Metacognition to Achieve Success
Section 3.2
assignment requirements. Duane is sure his work is good enough. He confuses confidence
with competence.
Duane as a Learner
Duane does not suffer from a lack of self-confidence as a learner, but a lack of being intentional. Throughout his years in school and in his military service, Duane was an overachiever
who strived for recognition and affirmation. When he doesn’t receive the recognition he feels
he deserves, he blocks out the feedback and replaces it with his own message of “job well
done.”
As a result, Duane frustrates his instructors and alienates his coworkers. Why? Because he
does not face himself as a learner. He chooses not to be self-reflective and not to learn from
others’ feedback on his performance. He cloaks himself in self-confidence and denies what
others have to offer him. Ultimately, Duane’s self-assurance prevents him from developing
into an intentional learner.
Are You Duane?
Duane (S33, P32, TR22, C27)





Is Strong-Willed.
Operates as his own team.
Lets his sense of self convince him that he:
• Can submit work that is off track from the actual assignment.
• Can ignore feedback.
• Will learn nothing from feedback.
Accepts no mentoring or help when it comes to learning; instead, he:
• Argues, rather than listens to, comments and suggestions.
• Has little respect for others’ opinions.
Does not engage in personal reflection.
Vincent, Cari, and Duane all lack an understanding of how to be mindful, intentional learners.
Their mindsets are riddled with common issues, including self-doubt, fear of making mistakes, and overconfidence. Each employs some aspect of the general parameters for studying:
having a workspace, setting a study time, and having the correct materials. Yet they are not
headed for success because they lack a personalized set of study strategies. Each requires
skills to turn their internal thoughts (metacognition) into external actions (personalized
learning techniques) and, as a result, nurture growth mindsets and develop into intentional
learners.
3.2 Using Metacognition to Achieve Success
The act of intentional learning begins with getting your mind in the game. It begins by showing up and being prepared. It begins with metacognition.
Let’s say you tend to procrastinate on writing assignments. You just don’t want to go
through the mental hassle or take the time to organize your thoughts and put them in
Using Metacognition to Achieve Success
Section 3.2
writing. You make all types of Pattern-based excuses in your head: “These directions aren’t
clear, and I don’t know where to start” (Sequence). “I need to reread the chapter before I
write my response, and I don’t have time to do both right now” (Precision). “I don’t see the
purpose in spending time writing down my thoughts” (Technical Reasoning). “I don’t have
the words to say what I’m thinking” (Technical Reasoning). “I’ll wait for more clear guidance from the instructor before attempting this” (Sequence). “It won’t take that long. I can
crank it out when I really need to” (Confluence). How can you move beyond these unproductive thoughts?
Metacognition moves you from generating excuses about doing the writing task to actually
doing the task. You move beyond the Pattern chatter in your mind and get to a place that
allows you to take charge and take action. How does this happen? Metacognition helps you
plan how you will succeed at a task, perform in such a way that leads to future success, and
learn from your performance. Note that planning, performing, and learning are all phases
of metacognition, and each phase includes important steps (see Figure 3.1). If you ignore
or skip any steps in a phase, you risk lowering the quality of the outcome.
Figure 3.1: Steps of metacognition
Metacognition involves planning, performing, and learning. Metacognition can be thought of as a
staircase: The learner builds on each step taken as he or she moves toward performing and then
learns as she or he comes away from the task. If needed, the learner revisits steps that were not
completed adequately.
Source: Based on Strategic Learning: A Guide to Your Learning Self (p. 31), by C. A. Johnston, 2012, Glassboro, NJ: Let Me
Learn, Inc.
What follows is a detailed description of each phase and its accompanying steps. By using
the phases of metacognition to guide you through a task, you will produce a quality product.
Furthermore, as you work through the steps in each phase, you strengthen your resolve, build
your capacity to overcome a learning challenge, and grow in your ability to be an intentional
learner. With practice, you should eventually find it easier and easier to progress through
these phases.
Phase 1: Planning
The planning phase of metacognition ensures that you think through the task at hand. If
you completely understand the task and what is required, you are more likely to succeed.
Section 3.2
Using Metacognition to Achieve Success
Planning requires that you first consider, or mull, what you are supposed to be doing and see
if you can draw upon, or connect with, prior experiences. Finally, planning involves practicing,
or rehearsing, what you are going to do, which will help you anticipate whether you need to
make further changes. Each of these “metacognitive steps” are described in further detail in
this section.
Step 1: Mulling
Mulling asks you to consider, “What am I supposed to be doing?”
Virtually all tasks begin with some form of mulling—meaning you get your mind inside the
assignment or the task and seek to understand it. Mulling can take as little as 2 minutes or as
long as 2 days, depending on the complexity of the task. However, don’t let the frustration of
not knowing how to start the task escalate to a level that holds you captive and renders you
unable to begin the assignment. Ask your instructor to clarify what is expected of you or ask
to see an example.
Table 3.1 describes how each Pattern mulls. Note that all Patterns help you move through
each metacognitive step, and each step will include a similar table. The key is to recognize
which Pattern you need to leverage to use your metacognition most skillfully.
Table 3.1: Mulling and your Patterns
Sequence . . .
Precision . . .
Technical Reasoning . . .
Confluence . . .
. . . looks for step-by-step directions.
. . . asks questions about the task.
. . . mulls the longest, working to figure out what to do to get the job
done well.
. . . mulls the shortest, often jumping into the task without exploring
directions. Remember that skipping a metacognitive step can cause
you to miss out on success, so you may need to turn to your other
Patterns when mulling!
The most practical tool you can use to help you mull over an assignment is called decoding.
You will learn how to use this important tool later in the chapter.
Step 2: Connecting
Connecting asks you to consider, “Have I ever done this or something similar before?”
Once you understand what you are being asked to do, you look for ways to connect efficiently
and effectively to carrying out the task. Connecting involves generating links between your
previous experiences and current knowledge of the subject, which helps give you an idea of
how best to approach the task. For example, you can look back at previous, similar assignments and note the instructor’s feedback and the differences and similarities between what
you did and what is expected this time. If you don’t have previous experience with a similar
task, you need to initiate a connection. To do this, you may study the examples provided, look
at the grading rubric, identify your options, and determine how to begin the task.
Using Metacognition to Achieve Success
Section 3.2
Table 3.2 describes how each Pattern connects.
Table 3.2: Connecting and your Patterns
Sequence . . .
Precision . . .
Technical Reasoning . . .
Confluence . . .
. . . compares the assignment to one you have done before.
. . . scours the assignment looking for pertinent data.
. . . asks, “Why reinvent the wheel? If I did this before and succeeded, why
not repeat the same activities?”
. . . holds back because it doesn’t enjoy basing the future on the past; it
wants to jump into action. If you are wise, you will ignore your Confluence and allow your other Patterns to guide you in connecting fully and
completely with the task at hand.
A practical tool you can use to help you connect to the new assignment is called FITing, which
you will also learn to use later in the chapter.
Step 3: Rehearsing
Rehearsing asks you to consider, “Do I need to practice in order to do the task well?”
Once you understand the task and have an idea of how to approach it, it is important to do
a mental or physical run-through before actually beginning. Rehearsing means repeating
the task as many times as needed to improve your performance or outcome. For example,
rehearsing might involve creating a rough draft, reading it aloud, editing your work, and then
reading it through at least one more time prior to submitting it. Rehearsing involves focused
practice beyond the simple “one and done.”
Table 3.3 describes how each Pattern rehearses.
Table 3.3: Rehearsing and your Patterns
Sequence . . .
Precision . . .
Technical Reasoning . . .
Confluence . . .
. . . enjoys doing a practice run. For Sequence, practice doesn’t make
perfect; it builds confidence.
. . . uses rehearsal to find errors and take corrective action.
. . . rehearses a lot if it is very interested in the project, or rehearses very
little if it just wants to get the assignment done.
. . . is not keen on rehearsing. Your Confluence will convince you that you
don’t need to rehearse or do a dry run. It will tell you that practice is
boring.
The most practical action you can take when planning to complete an assignment is to build a
personal strategy card. Later in the chapter, you will see examples of strategy cards.
Phase 2: Performing
The performing phase of metacognition is where the action is. You will need to make sure you
are paying attention, or attending to the task, before you actually express and do the task to
the best of your ability.
Section 3.2
Using Metacognition to Achieve Success
Step 4: Attending
Attending asks you to consider, “How can
I pace myself and keep my energy high?”
Up to this point, you have carefully planned
to do the task by mulling, connecting, and
rehearsing. Attending means you don’t let
up; you continue to operate at a high level
of focused energy. Attending requires a
significant amount of grit, but the benefit
becomes very clear when you actually do
the task.
There is something that can happen to every
athlete and every human being; the instinct
to slack off, to give in to pain, to give less
than your best; the instinct to hope you can
win through luck or through your opponent not doing his best, instead of going to
the limit and past your limit where victory
is always found. Defeating those negative
instincts that are out to defeat us, is the difference between winning and losing—and
we all face that battle every day.
Table 3.4 describes how each Pattern
attends.
Table 3.4: Attending and your Patterns
Sequence . . .
Precision . . .
Technical Reasoning . . .
Confluence . . .
—Jesse Owens (as cited in Gass, 2000, p. 91)
. . . gets in the zone, sets mental markers of …
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