Learning how to think

Deakin University and Warrnambool College have combined in an initiative they hope will develop the thinking skills of students.

Dr Julianne Lynch, from Deakin's School of Education, led a suite of workshops and presentations for 68 teachers at the school yesterday.

Dr Lynch has been working with Warrnambool College principal Mary Pendergast to develop the program, which aims to help students approach learning in a deliberate way to improve their performance.

"Teachers at all levels have an important role to play in the development of their students' thinking skills and this includes metacognitive skills that support effective learning," Dr Lynch said.

Metacognitive skills include goal setting, coming up with a plan of attack, monitoring progress and evaluating performance.

"Research has found that skills in planning, monitoring progress and evaluating are more strongly related to success than intellectual ability, which challenges conventional beliefs about who can be successful at school.

"All learners, regardless of age or ability, can engage in higher order thinking and develop metacognitive skills and awareness.

"It is important to get students to articulate their own interests and expertise and that they be given room to develop their own learning goals in relation to the set curriculum."

The professional learning day will also emphasise the role that students' beliefs and self-esteem play in their learning.

Dr Lynch was joined by two of Deakin's Melbourne academics, Professor Brenton Doecke and Alan Marshall.

She said the program was designed to suit the school's professional learning agenda but hoped it could be adapted to serve other schools.

"The school has shown great initiative and forward thinking in seeking to involve Deakin in thinking about thinking and challenging ways of learning," she said.

"It is the first time we have done this particular program and we believe it could be adapted so we could enter partnerships to assist other schools."

It also marks Dr Lynch's first professional association with her old school since she graduated from the former Warrnambool Secondary College in 1987.

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