Between the end of the spring semester and planning for upcoming travel during the summer, our college students with ADHD and Executive Function challenges may not be allowing themselves time to process the celebrations and challenges of the end of the semester. When this happens, a valuable opportunity to improve students’ learning skills is passed over. However, parents can help their children take advantage of this opportunity and develop more awareness around their learning processes by asking open-ended questions designed to promote metacognition.
Metacognition, or thinking about thinking, is the regulatory system that helps a person understand and control his or her own cognitive performance. We use metacognition regularly because it is embedded in tasks that require us to plan how to approach a given learning task, monitor our comprehension, and evaluate our progress toward the completion of a task. Metacognition operates on a spectrum that ranges from simple awareness of our thought processes to exerting deliberate control over them. All people possess some degree of metacognition; however, everyone can benefit from becoming more conscious of how to develop more control over how they process their thoughts.
Having a weakness within key mental skills, or the executive functions (activation, focus, effort, emotion, memory and action), is a common characteristic of ADHD. With underdeveloped executive functions, it is not uncommon for our students with ADHD to be “living in the moment,” making little effort to consciously process and evaluate information and events. Recent research indicates that metacognitively aware learners are more strategic in their approaches to projects than unaware learners, allowing them to plan, sequence, and monitor their learning in ways that directly improve performance.
Because metacognition plays a critical role in successful learning, while your child is home from college over the holiday break, try out some of these reflective questions to encourage their self-assessment:
Five questions to helps students reflect on their college semester
1. What are some of the strategies that worked for you this semester that you would like to carry into next semester?
2. If you could make one change that would contribute to a better next semester, what would that change be?
3. Next semester, what resource might you take advantage of for supplementary help (like study groups, tutoring, the disability support office or Learning Center, and psychological services or the Wellness Center) so you can do your best work and develop your skills?
4. How are you networking with your professors and others about your work in order to get ideas
on what you can do enhance your skills?
5. What type of future experiences (this summer and beyond) should you be thinking about that might help to enhance your own academic goals?
As you welcome your child back into your home over the summer, keep in mind that the more you can provide students with opportunities to think about (and articulate) their own learning process, the more you can contribute directly to their improved performance. This may require some initial development of skills through modeling and finding time to process information; however, it will provide both you and your child with a clearer picture of how he or she thinks, and it can help you promote the kind of deliberate learning strategies that you want them to develop. Ultimately, metacognition techniques help our children become more successful learners by externalizing events that occur. With your help, you can assist your child with ADHD in creating a better future semester!
Christina Fabrey, MEd, PCC, BCC, ACAC is an Edge Foundation Coach. She is a certified life and AD/HD coach, and an ADHD Coach Trainer. Christina serves as the Director for the Center of Advising and Achievement at Green Mountain College (GMC), an environmental liberal arts college in western Vermont, where she previously served as the school’s director of academic support services and disability support provider. Christina currently incorporates coaching into her work with students with disabilities at Green Mountain College.