Have you ever asked your students, “Who are you as a student?” It’s a tough question, and chances are your students will struggle to respond. They might tell you their name and grade level, or they might tell you a specific subject that they love or hate.
Promoting a deeper level of self-understanding is crucial for the lifelong success of your students. They will need to understand not only their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to academic skills (or future professional skills), but they will also need a deeper understanding of what motivates them. How do they work most effectively? What are their long-term goals? How can they leverage their strengths and bypass areas of weakness to achieve their long-term goals? The answer to these questions relies on metacognition, or a student’s self-awareness.
There are three key processes involved in developing metacognition:
- Self-understanding — understanding our unique profiles of strengths and challenges
- Reflection — thinking about what we know
- Self-regulation — regulating and monitoring our learning
Opportunities to develop self-understanding and reflect on past performance will promote successful self-regulation. In SMARTS we use Strategy Reflection Sheets to ask students to reflect on the strategies they use to complete their work. There are also a number of freely available online surveys and tests you can use to help students learn more about who they are.
- The Learner Sketch Tool — This online survey from the QED Foundation provides learners with a personalized profile across six neurodevelopmental areas (e.g., attention, complex thinking, and language). The results are portrayed in a ‘blob’ map, which is visually interesting and informative. This is a favorite tool of mine.
- Career Inventories — It’s never too early to get students thinking about jobs that they might be interested in. If they can envision their possible future selves, they can begin to visualize their personal pathway to success. Use career quizzes that both list potential jobs a student might be good at (such as this free Holland Code Career Test from Truity) as well as career quizzes that highlight the strengths a student might bring to their professional lives (e.g., organization, creativity, interpersonal skills). This short career test from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is a great example.
- Quizzes that Asses Values and Drives — It’s important for students to understand themselves beyond school and work. The Values in Action Survey helps students understand the values that underlie their decision making, an invaluable aspect of motivation, goal setting, and future success.
These are only a few of the many online surveys and tests you can use to help your students develop a deeper awareness of themselves. After your students take a survey, don’t forget to have them share the results! Developing an understanding of who you are is a social process, especially for teenagers.
Hope you enjoy these surveys. Are there others you like to use? Let us know in the comments!
- Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Program Director