I am finding it difficult to enforce the learning strategies Talking Aloud, Back Checking and Pen to Paper and to explain them in such a way that my students are convinced they are important.
Most importantly the students must understand why these strategies are important and that ALL successful maths students do this, although many do it without realising. Remember, you want to enforce the use of these strategies but without being forceful. If the student is to ever be independent of their tutor, they must learn to use these techniques. As a maths tutor, this is part of your responsibility.
Internally the students must have some sort of mental objection to some of these strategies otherwise they would listen to you. It is probably best to start by figuring out what these are. Speak with them openly and point out how you notice they are not making much effort with the strategies – ask them why? Consult with them about your experiences and understanding of the strategies – help them to understand why the strategies work and try to relate it to their own experience. Don’t instil these concepts as dogma, rather just as an effective approach. Typically it will take numerous discussions to bring a student around to realising that these strategies work!
What else really helps is to allow students to make maths mistakes and then get them to do the same question but use a strategy. They will either get it correct OR at least have a stronger rapport with the question. Point this out to them.
For example, if they don’t put pen to paper and make a bunch of mistakes or get stuck tell them, ok, now let’s try it with Pen To Paper. Get them to write down the question and probe them to put down extra bits of information in an orderly and structured fashion. Slowly, they should start connecting the dots (if not then probe them a little more). At the end they should definitely have experienced the benefit of putting pen to paper – make sure they are aware of it. Make them aware how when all the maths was out of their head and on paper, it was easier to think. Make them aware how seeing all the information simultaneously helped them tie it together. Make them aware how making a small mistake somewhere was a lot easier to overcome because they had already written down lots of useful ideas. Etc.
Give them the experience of how the strategies are effective – then they will not need more convincing.