Students’ academic success requires not only action, but also reflection—that is, reflecting on what they have done, what they are doing, and what they will do. Such reflection or thoughtful review is the flip side of active involvement. Both processes are needed for learning to be completed. Active involvement is necessary for engaging attention—which enables students to initially get information into their brain, and reflection is necessary for consolidation—keeping that information in their brain, by locking it into their long-term memory. There are four specific forms of self-reflection that are particularly important for effective learning and academic success:
1. Self-Assessment: Simply defined, self-assessment is the process of evaluating one’s personal characteristics, traits, or habits, and their relative strengths and weaknesses. This process is essential for promoting self-awareness, which is a critical first step toward self-improvement, strategic planning, and decision-making. Personal Interests, Personal Values, Personal Abilities or Aptitudes, Learning
Habits, Personality Traits, and Academic Self-Concept are the key characteristics of the “self” that can strongly influence learning and academic success, and therefore, are important target areas for student self-assessment.
Academic Self-concept deals with your personal beliefs; about what kind of student you think you are, and how you perceive yourself as a learner. In particular, two components of academic self-concept play an important role in learning and academic success.
Academic Self-Efficacy and Academic Self-Esteem: Academic Self-Efficacy is the degree to which students believe that they are in control of their own academic fate. That is, whether they think their academic success depends largely on themselves (their self-motivation and self-determination) and that they can change for the better (by increasing their effort and improving their habits); or, whether they believe thatacademic success depends largely on factors beyond their control for instance their upbringing or present life circumstances, and that they cannot change or improve their performance (example due to low ability or insufficient intelligence). Academic Self-Esteem is about how you feel about yourself as a student (for example – positive, negative, or neutral) and your level of self-confidence in academic situations (for example – whether you expect success or fear failure).
The second form of self-reflection is self-monitoring.
2. Self-Monitoring: One key characteristic of successful college students is that they monitor their own performance, that is, they maintain awareness of how effectively they are learning—for example, they pay attention to whether they are really paying attention in class, and if they are actually learning what they are attempting to learn—for example, if they are truly understanding the material they are studying or merely memorizing it. As part of this self-monitoring process, we have to maintain awareness of what we are attempting to learn (for example, science or literature) and we have to self-regulate or adjust our learning strategies in a way that best meets the specific demands of the subject we are trying to learn.
Reflective thinking that involves a deeper level of understanding is better than surface memorization of factual knowledge. Therefore, we have to take the reflection time needed to transform information into a form that is personally meaningful to us, and construct our own knowledge by connecting what we are learning to what we already know. For example, putting abstract concepts into our own words (paraphrase), think of illustrative examples from our personal experiences, integrate or connect new concepts with previously learned concepts; and successfully extrapolate or transfer concepts learned in one context and apply them in different contexts play an immense role in our academic success.
Reflection on Feedback is the third form of self-reflection.
3. Reflecting on Feedback: Reflect on and make use of information received from others on how to improve your academic performance. In college, successful students are alert to potential sources of valuable feedback they may receive from professors, academic advisors, academic support professionals, and student life professionals. As Grant Wiggins notes “People can’t learn without feedback. It’s not teaching that causes learning. Instead, learning depends upon the quality of the feedback and opportunities to use it.” And finally the forth form of self-reflection is Reflecting on he Future.
4. Reflecting on the Future: Reflect not only on what you have done and what you are currently doing, you also engage in self-projection—reflecting on what you will be doing in the more distant future. This process of futuristic thinking involves the twin tasks of goal-setting and long-range planning. To achieve success, you need to focus on the big picture—your long-term goals and dreams, which inspire motivation, and the little details—daily deadlines, due dates, and short-term commitments, which require perspiration.
If you focus on your future and not looking to make a quick buck, you will get the most out of Success College. It is important to understand that you are building an empire that can pay you for the rest of your life, so it will take some time to build it up.