Learning about Learning (in a Writing Class)

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It can be very useful for UWS instructors and students alike to spend some time considering how they learn and what techniques may be most useful for knowledge and skill acquisition. Below are some topics and useful resources for discussions on metacognition.

Potential Topics/Learning Goals

  1. Distinguishing and switching between focused and diffuse mode of thinking
  2. Learning about the connection between body and brain, and about the benefits of physical exercise for creativity
  3. Discussing strategies for managing time and effort, preventing procrastination, maintaining motivation, and reducing anxiety
  4. Exploring how beliefs about ourselves shape our personal and professional lives; considering the effects of a fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset
  5. Increasing students' awareness of the purpose and transferability of their learning in UWS

Video Clips

Useful Handouts

Texts for Class Discussion

Sources and Recommended Reading

  • Atherton, Matthew C. "Academic Preparedness of First-Generation College Students: Different Perspectives." Journal of College Student Development, vol. 55, no. 8, 2014, pp. 824-829.
  • Dweck, Carol. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House, 2006.
  • Cushman, K. “Facing the culture: First-generation college students talk about identity, class, and what helps them succeed.” Educational Leadership, 2007, pp. 44‑
  • Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit. Random House, 2012.
  • Epstein, David. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. Riverhead, 2019.
  • “Study Skills.” English for Academic Purposes Foundation, https://www.eapfoundation.com/studyskills.
  • Ishitani, Terry T. “Studying Attrition and Degree Completion Behavior among First-Generation College Students in the United States.” The Journal of Higher Education, vol. 77, no. 5, 2006, pp. 861-885.
  • Kahnemann, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
  • Oakley, Barbara. A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra). Random House, 2014.
  • Schooler, Jonathan, et al. “Chapter One - The Middle Way: Finding the Balance between Mindfulness and Mind-Wandering.” Psychology of Learning and Motivation, vol. 60, 2014, pp. 1-33.
  • Tough, Paul. “Who Gets to Graduate?” New York Times Magazine, May 15, 2014.
  • Winkelmes, Mary-Ann, principal investigator and founder. TILT Higher Ed: Transparency in Learning and Teaching. https://tilthighered.com.

 A Zits comic strip titled "Classic Literature." In the first panel, labeled "As Written," the author of Beowulf writes focusedly; in the second panel, labeled "As Read," Jeremy slouches in a chair distractedly reading Beowulf while surrounded by cell phone texts, laptop, music, and snacks.Copyright Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, 2009.

Contributed by Katrin Fischer, Brandeis University Writing Program, 2020.