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Encourage reflective thought and action

Reflective thought and action involves students thinking critically about the information and ideas they are exploring and expressing. They need to recognise the importance of being able to think about and explain their thinking (metacognition).

By teaching students metacognitive skills, teachers enable them to become independent, self-regulating learners, who can enhance their own ability to learn.

Strategies and actions

Teachers can encourage reflection and metacognition in a variety of ways.

  • Help students to make links between new learning and existing knowledge. For example, students create a T chart (side-by-side columns, listing two viewpoints of a topic) to compare what they know about accounts used by a sole proprietor and what they have learnt about a community organisation. Learn more: T-charts
  • Use “think-alouds”, that is, verbalise the thinking process that the students might use to decide whether one strategy is more effective than another. For example, the teacher could verbally analyse her own decision to use a Venn diagram rather than a Plus/Minus/Interesting chart to critique the usefulness of information in a chairperson’s report with the company’s financial statements.
  • Use non-judgmental questions and comments to probe students’ thinking on accounting issues. Rather than affirming or rejecting an answer or opinion, ask questions to explore the process the student used to arrive at his or her answer. Encourage them to think whether they could justify a different outcome, for example, when considering a strategic decision on whether or not a company should expand their factory.
  • Allow individual thinking time, especially when checking whether concepts have been understood. For example, get the students to do a think-pair-share exercise. Encourage them to build in time to think (that is, to wait five seconds after asking a question and after the response).
  • Encourage students to refine their thinking by requiring specific and detailed responses. For example, students should explain each step in converting a partnership entity to a company.
  • Support students to develop logical approaches to problems by relating new knowledge to prior learning, for example, by using a graphic organiser to show links between topics and learning progress.
  • Get students to use and then evaluate different techniques and strategies and then compare these with others they have used, for example, identifying the most efficient way of finding costs exclusive of GST.
  • Ask students to give feedback on the usefulness of activities and materials they have worked with and to suggest alternatives.
  • At the end of a lesson, ask students to write down:
    • (i) the ideas they are clear on
    • (ii) the ideas they are still in the process of grasping
    • (iii) the ideas that confuse them. They can do this on slips of A5 paper ('exit slips') and hand them in as they leave.
  • Identify literacy elements in accounting tasks, for example, common terms that have specific meanings in accounting contexts or varied use of terms and phrases in different subject areas, such as 'profit' and 'capital' being defined differently in accounting and economics.
  • Identify numeracy strategies in accounting tasks, for example, estimating to check reasonableness of an answer.

Questions to encourage reflection

Questions that encourage reflection include:

  • What do you notice (in/about/when) …?
  • What is the same and what is different in …?
  • What makes you think that?
  • How would you approach the problem?
  • What are the main steps in this technique?
  • How could you simplify this issue for a client?
  • What is another way of …?
  • What are the pluses and minuses of these alternatives?
  • What would you think if …?
  • Why do you think this is happening?
  • How would you define …?
  • What conclusions can you draw from …?
  • Why do you dis/agree with …?
  • How might you explain …?
  • What patterns can you find?
  • If you were going to guess, what …?
  • Why do you think this teaching strategy was used?
  • How did this teaching strategy help you to learn?

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Last updated January 30, 2012