12 Mar

Study Habits Approach

Year 12 student: I need to work on improving her problem solving skills/independent learning, as well as her self-belief (such as trying more questions individually before asking). How do I best integrate some of the learning strategies into tutorial sessions for a year 12 student?

Depends which learning strategies you are referring to. Talking Aloud for example may seem a little patronizing to a year 12 student but asking them to explain concepts back to you or talk you through a question can achieve the same purpose.

Generally speaking, the most important learning strategies for senior students are problem solving skills as you mention and general study habits.

There are whole books about problem solving skills but a few things to try are:

  • The self questioning process to probe the student rather than offering solutions immediately.”What does the question want from you? What are you given? What haven’t you used yet? Etc”. Ultimately they must do this on their own so write these down on paper and ask them to keep it next to them whenever practicing math.
  • Breaking their dependence on you which is largely habitual rather than necessary. If the student asks you a question where you know they can answer it without you, insist they try. When the have a set of similar questions to ask you, answer first only one and then ask them to attempt the next on their own.

Fostering strong study habits when tutoring a year 12 student is crucial. Half the challenge in grade 12 is managing the volume of content that needs to be covered while leading a balanced life. Here it can be useful to relate your own experiences as first hand solutions that work. Important study habits to focus on are:

  • Planning in advance what content, what gaps will be covered at which point. This is especially important when it comes to test time.
  • Teaching the student to be independent and seek to solve their own problems rather than waiting for you each week. For example asking their teacher or a friend for some help or looking through worked examples in their textbook. An important part here is helping students learn to take ownership over their work and results.
  • Creating a structure or loose process to their working week such that maths is done throughout the week rather than doing it all in one day.
  • Develop the generally correct attitude for mathematics. That is, taking things as slow as they require to truly comprehend content, taking the time to put pen to paper and work through questions, taking the time to reflect on strengths and weaknesses.

The sort of study habits mentioned can only be instilled through conversation and discussion. You will need to actually show them what to do, specifically.  Try to focus on one thing each week and reflect on the students progress in that regard next tutorial. Measure what is working and what is not, this is the nature of mentoring. As the student starts to experience the benefits of your counsel they will become more responsive to your advice.

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