- To help students develop metacognitive skills — being aware of what they’re learning and why — California history and technology teacher Jordan Mattox suggests in Edutopia educators incorporate three basic guidelines into lessons for a positive outcome.
- Clear objectives are the most crucial, spelling these out and explaining them in a way students understand. They should also be able to connect their work to these objectives and understand where these skills may be applied to real-world examples.
- Educators should also encourage students to see how the lessons they’ve studied may be applicable to their own lives: How would they do something differently, or how would they apply what they’ve learned to a problem they’ve faced themselves?
Real-world learning, particularly for middle and high school students, is key for helping them develop skills and absorb knowledge that will eventually apply to their life outside the classroom. School may prepare students for higher education, but it should also prepare them for practical situations like how to balance a checkbook, how to collaborate with peers, or how to write a cover letter that lands them the first job in their hoped-for career.
Too often, however, students ask themselves or their teachers why they need to learn something, unable to connect the dots between an assignment in class to useful information that will help them later in life. Making that connection can help students focus on what they’re learning, as they can visualize how these skills may help them achieve goals they’ve set for themselves.
Teaching students real-world skills and helping bridge that connection between studies and a future career is a focus for many colleges, as well. Students are more likely to feel connected to their work after graduation if they’ve had these opportunities, such as an internship.
Giving students opportunities to see beyond a classroom assignment, to why they’re learning a particular lesson or skill, may help them feel more connected to the material and improve their success later in their educations and lives.