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A recent report by the AAC&U (2002) advocates greater emphasis on educating students to be "intentional learners" who are purposeful and self-directing, empowered through intellectual and practical skills, informed by knowledge and ways of knowing, and responsible for personal actions and civic values. Self-directing learners also take initiative to diagnose their learning needs, they formulate learning goals, they select and implement learning strategies, and they evaluate their learning outcomes. It is commonly assumed that students will develop these sorts of skills, motivations, and attitudes in the course of mastering content, but this is not necessarily the case. In an effort to help students develop these skills, Dexter Perkins and I began introducing a learning co-curriculum into our courses. This curriculum includes readings, classroom activities, discussions, and reflective journaling about learning. These activities not only provide a foundation for developing skills for life-long learning, they also provide scaffolding as students undertake greater responsibility for their own learning. Additionally, students now have a shared vocabulary about thinking and learning, they have a clearer understanding of our expectations for their learning (i.e., that student learning goals should go far beyond memorizing content), and they are more intentional about their own learning. Student motivations and attitudes have changed remarkably with the greater focus on thinking and learning. Furthermore, students more fully understand the value of their learning and their own development.
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