Teach Students How to Learn
Strategies You Can Incorporate Into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation

Foreword by Thomas Angelo
Paper: 978 1 62036 316 4 / $32.00
Published: October 2015  

Cloth: 978 1 62036 315 7 / $95.00
Published: October 2015  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 62036 317 1 / $95.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: October 2015  

E-Book: 978 1 62036 318 8 / $25.99
Published: October 2015  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
288 pp., 6" x 9"
figures, tables & power point slides
Co-published in association with

Miriam, a freshman Calculus student at Louisiana State University, made 37.5% on her first exam but 83% and 93% on the next two. Matt, a first year General Chemistry student at the University of Utah, scored 65% and 55% on his first two exams and 95% on his third—These are representative of thousands of students who decisively improved their grades by acting on the advice described in this book.

What is preventing your students from performing according to expectations? Saundra McGuire offers a simple but profound answer: If you teach students how to learn and give them simple, straightforward strategies to use, they can significantly increase their learning and performance.

For over a decade Saundra McGuire has been acclaimed for her presentations and workshops on metacognition and student learning because the tools and strategies she shares have enabled faculty to facilitate dramatic improvements in student learning and success. This book encapsulates the model and ideas she has developed in the past fifteen years, ideas that are being adopted by an increasing number of faculty with considerable effect.

The methods she proposes do not require restructuring courses or an inordinate amount of time to teach. They can often be accomplished in a single session, transforming students from memorizers and regurgitators to students who begin to think critically and take responsibility for their own learning.

Saundra McGuire takes the reader sequentially through the ideas and strategies that students need to understand and implement. First, she demonstrates how introducing students to metacognition and Bloom’s Taxonomy reveals to them the importance of understanding how they learn and provides the lens through which they can view learning activities and measure their intellectual growth. Next, she presents a specific study system that can quickly empower students to maximize their learning. Then, she addresses the importance of dealing with emotion, attitudes, and motivation by suggesting ways to change students’ mindsets about ability and by providing a range of strategies to boost motivation and learning; finally, she offers guidance to faculty on partnering with campus learning centers.

She pays particular attention to academically unprepared students, noting that the strategies she offers for this particular population are equally beneficial for all students.

While stressing that there are many ways to teach effectively, and that readers can be flexible in picking and choosing among the strategies she presents, Saundra McGuire offers the reader a step-by-step process for delivering the key messages of the book to students in as little as 50 minutes. Free online supplements provide three slide sets and a sample video lecture.

This book is written primarily for faculty but will be equally useful for TAs, tutors, and learning center professionals. For readers with no background in education or cognitive psychology, the book avoids jargon and esoteric theory.

Table of Contents:

1) Saundra’s journey: From traditional instructor to academic transformer

2) Why don’t our students already know how to learn?

3) Metacognition: What it is and how it helps students become independent learners

4) The power of teaching Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Study Cycle to students

5) Metacognitive learning strategies at work

6) Mindset matters

7) Connections between emotions, motivation, and learning

8) What faculty can do to boost motivation, positive emotions, and learning

9) What students can do to boost motivation, positive emotions, and learning

10) Partnering with your campus learning center

11) Teaching learning strategies to groups

12) Teaching unprepared students

Epilogue- Experiment and have fun!

Appendix A: Compilation of strategies for students
Appendix B: Books and weblinks recommended for students
Appendix C: Compilation of strategies for instructors
Appendix D: Resources for presenting learning strategies to groups
Appendix E: Learning strategies inventory
Appendix F: Dramatic individual student improvement
Appendix G: Selected student feedback
Appendix H: Slides from Chemistry Presentation
Appendix I: An Advanced Placement physics class


About the Authors


Sample: Introduction

Reviews & Endorsements:
"It shouldn’t be surprising that a volume intent on teaching students how to learn is just as intent on teaching the reader how to do just that, but it is still refreshing to read a book that lays out its goals, sticks to the promises it makes, and even creates its own study guide based on how much time the reader has to give to the text. Well-structured and clear, Saundra Yancy McGuire’s Teach Students How to Learn is as thoughtful about itself as it is about the content it presents. McGuire has composed this book to reflect her own response to and engagement with a pressing problem in higher education: namely, that many students, even those who qualify for admission at prestigious institutions, arrive without ever having been taught to learn by anything but rote memorization. Faced with college’s demands of skills higher in Bloom’s Taxonomy, they find themselves struggling and even failing.

With this book McGuire gives teachers the tools they need to move their students past the high school model of retention until regurgitation, helping them instead to internalize a more nuanced, flexible understanding of learning. To convey this understanding, McGuire focuses on student mindset, encouraging educators to bring in everything from neurobiological models to fellow student success stories in order to help learners see that they are not stuck being 'bad' at something – that change is not only possible, but already well within reach.

Most of all, McGuire is a fun writer. Personal and plainspoken, her style makes the pages fly by. (Any worries that this book might drown the reader in jargon should be alleviated by the appearance of the words ‘metacognition, schmetacognition’. I would recommend this book in particular to educators working with students from underserved communities, as giving students access to these techniques will help ensure their success far beyond the boundaries of a single classroom.”
- Reflective Teaching (Wabash Center)
"I just wanted to write you a quick note to talk about how much I enjoyed your book Teach Students How to Learn. I work as the Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at the Faculty Center at my university. Every year I get to put on a Summer Teaching Institute for faculty. The theme that came out of much of the work we have been doing about High-Impact Practices and what we want to accomplish at the university centered on life-long learning and nurturing autonomy and agency in students. I wanted to make that the theme of the institute this year and in looking for materials I came across your book. I loved it and it is the book we are going to cover this summer. I think it will provide a wonderful road map for us as we try move past how best to teach information to our students into helping our students become better learners."
- Matthew C. Atherton, Ph.D. , California State University San Marcos