Why is learning to learn so important?
Hattie (2009) observes that “significantly high effects on students’ learning are found where they (a) can set challenging and specific goals that allow them to direct, evaluate and redirect their learning, and (b) receive feedback (from peers, teachers, parents, and own experience) that relates specifically to how the gap can be addressed between current and future performance” (as cited in Gibbs and Poskitt, 2010, page 19).
PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) has found that learners’ belief in their own efficacy is the strongest single predictor of whether they will adopt strategies that make learning effective (Artelt et al., 2003, pages 33–34).
When students can direct their learning and know how they learn best, they can also better navigate the wide range of available choices in school and beyond.
Learning to learn is particularly important when teachers are no longer a main source of information and knowledge. For example, young people regularly use information technologies to connect with other people and information. An individual’s ability to locate and critically appraise information from such sources is vital for learning throughout life.
Whānau and teacher support
Ako (teaching and learning partnerships between teachers and students) promotes shared ownership of and responsibility for learning, with well-known benefits for engagement and achievement.
For example, parent–teacher–student conferences, when the student is well prepared to share their learning portfolio and talk about goals achieved or next steps, can provide important opportunities to enhance the student’s agency in their learning.
Empowering students to become more self-directed learners and helping teachers and parents further develop these skills in their children can significantly increase students’ motivation and achievement in school.
Cleary and Zimmerman, 2004, cited in Gibbs and Poskitt,
2010, page 21
Informal learning conversations between teacher and whānau are another opportunity to build a young person’s agency as he or she shares ideas on setting goals and evaluates his or her progress.
Learning to learn for all
A student’s language, culture, abilities or disabilities, and prior experiences affect how they approach learning to learn. Ensuring that each learner has the language and concepts to set and assess their goals requires the teacher to know that learner and what they bring to classroom learning.
Teacher knowledge of the learner is crucial in supporting Māori and Pasifika learners, and those with special education needs, in learning to learn. Inclusive, supportive classroom environments and learning conversations between teachers, students, and whānau help to support all students in learning to learn.