In this video, from Samford University, psychology professor Stephen Chew discusses how you beliefs can impact your successes and our failures:

Chew also introduces the concept of metacognition.

Metacognition refers to paying attention to how you learn – being aware of how well you understand concepts. In this video, we can see how learning to accurately evaluate your comprehension can be a strength in classes where you’re evaluated on your application of knowledge, such as quizzes and exams. In our class, we will discuss metacognition and the process of reflecting in a slightly different way by looking at how you’re doing as readers, thinkers, and writers throughout the semester.

Reflecting as a Reader:

Reflecting on your reading will help you determine which strategies are most effective for increasing your reading comprehension. As a successful college reader, you will need to adjust your use of reading strategies depending on the difficulty of the text and your purpose for reading it. Having a toolbox of reading strategies that work well for you will help you successfully monitor your comprehension and troubleshoot problems as they arise. You will want to continue to identify and strengthen the strategies that are working best for you and eliminate the ones that are least effective.

As you read your assigned texts for any of your college courses, consider the following questions:

  • Do you set a purpose for reading and adjust your reading strategies to fit the purpose?
  • Do you adjust your reading strategies depending on the difficulty of the text or do you read every text the same way?
  • How do you adjust your use of reading strategies according to your reading purpose and the difficulty of the text?
  • How do you implement the reading process? What do you do before, during and after reading?
  • What are you doing to monitor your comprehension? How do you know you fully understood the text?
  • What do you do when your comprehension breaks down and you come across parts of a reading that you do not understand?
  • What are your weakest areas as a reader? How will you work on improving these areas?
  • How are you growing as a reader?

If you take the time to respond to the questions above, you will be learning about the reading strategies that work best for you. This reflection activity will help you transfer what you are learning about yourself as a reader to your other college courses. Regular reflection on your reading progress will help you become a more effective and efficient reader of academic texts.

Reflecting as a Writer:

As a writer, reflecting will help you pay attention to your progress, your struggles, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Additionally, by considering different assignments and tasks (in this class and across classes) you will be more likely to transfer your learning and find similarities across assignments that help you to be more prepared and more confident.

To be useful, any reflective or metacognitive assignment should be something you take your time with. You should try to consider specific details when you’re thinking about a project–so that you notice things about yourself:

  • What habits are you relying on/falling back on/developing? Are they good or bad habits? What do these do for your writing process? Why? How?
  • How are you able to apply class lessons to work when you’re outside of class?
  • What kinds of similarities or differences can you recognize among writing assignments?
  • how have you improved since the last assignment? how are you growing as a writer?
  • Are you fully understanding texts? How do you know? How are you able to apply them to your writing?
  • ​​What is your writing process? How does that process affect your writing overall?
  • Where and when do you feel “stuck” as a writer?

Once you start recognizing patterns, hiccups, problems, solutions, and good questions to ask yourself, you’ll be more involved in your learning–and you’ll be better prepared to tackle more challenging assignments. Remember: learning takes time. Everyone has to struggle through difficult tasks. What matters in the end is that we can look back and see how we were able to conquer those challenges–what tools we used and what strategies we employed.


Think about an assignment from your past that was challenging for you. It doesn’t matter in the end if you felt you completed a successful or unsuccessful final product; instead, consider why the assignment was difficult.

Make a list of the struggles you had – why was this particular assignment hard?

  • What was the nature of the assignment? Is that part of the reason you struggled? Why?
  • What materials were being covered? How did you respond or react to that?
  • How did you manage your time and other classwork to make time to work on the assignment?
  • Did you put in a lot of effort?
  • Were you unable to get engaged?

Which of these factors had an impact on your ability to complete the assignment?

Now consider: which of these factors do you have the most control over? How can you overcome similar struggles should you face them during this semester?

Write a reflection (a detailed, personal response) on what you’ve learned about yourself from answering these questions. What should you watch out for when you have another challenging assignment? What will help you succeed?