Academic Tutoring

Cognitive psychology has a lot to teach us about how students learn and why they develop the beliefs they have about school. If we understand these processes we can intervene and help your child feel more confident and happy at school.

Some very important research in the last two decades has looked at the process approach to learning. The process approach involves focusing on a student’s process and not on the product, which ultimately improves motivation. Many students lose their motivation when the effort they put forth is not matched by the grade they receive on a project or test. After this kind of experience they begin to develop an implicit belief: If I don’t try my hardest then it’s okay if I get a C. Since I didn’t try very hard, that grade doesn’t really say anything about me and

what I am really capable of. Alternatively, if they try as hard as they can and get a C, then they feel like a failure. It is easier to hide behind not trying. To read more about this we refer you to the work of Carol Dweck, a psychologist whose work examines motivation, achievement, and children’s implicit beliefs about intelligence.

We also know that students can learn strategies, but they don’t implement them unless they see that the strategy pays off for something they care about. So it is important to help students with their schoolwork and generate strategies through that work. For more on strategy usage we refer you to the work of Steve Peverly, a psychologist at Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

Lastly, awareness is key to making a change. Students need to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses so they can compensate for their difficulties. And they need to be aware of when they should activate strategies. If students aren’t aware of their own learning and performance styles they won’t be able to recognize when to implement strategies. This is part of generalizing a skill, which is the ultimate achievement for students. To learn more about awareness we refer you to the work of George Prigatano, a neuropsychologist who writes about the importance of awareness in cognitive rehabilitation.