Friday Mindset #107

Helping students get better at studenting

Happy Friday!

It’s the last newsletter of 2023, and we’re giving you a bit of a round-up. Look! Three shiny Christmas presents glittering below, neatly-wrapped powerpoints tucked under the tree for you to try out next term…

Before we get to them, a quick notice: if you’re coming on our VESPA CPD day on Monday 11th of December, we emailed through all the details the Monday and Tuesday of this week. You should have them! Say hello at [email protected] if you don’t, for any reason!

OK. Now let’s dive in.

Three things to try...

Like any of these online Substack-style letters, every issue a few new subscribers jump onboard, and a few throw themselves screaming into shark-infested waters, happy to face killer fish rather than read a word we write again.

The upshot is, there are about a thousand more of you now than there were when 2023 started. So - in case you missed them - here’s three things we’ve shared this year that we’ve come to rely on delivering pretty regularly ourselves; good stuff we’re glad we worked on.


The Bicycle Test

A practice activity we come back to again and again, encouraging students to teach each other when they study together:

Catching Clarity

An effort activity about establishing good study habits and chasing down errors or misunderstandings - could be a good new years’ resolution session:

Six Types of Goal

And a vision activity we’ve revisited plenty recently - a good one, perhaps, for early 2024:

Portal Talk...

During our student sessions this month I have been talking about the tragic tale of poor old McArthur Wheeler. In 1995 McArthur walked into several banks across Pittsburgh and, in full view of CCTV and other customers, proceeded to rob them at gunpoint. Later that day when the police arrested him he was heard saying, “But I wore the juice!”

McArthur Wheeler

As the police interview unfolded it became clear the “the juice” was actually lemon juice. McArthur had been assured by his “friends” that if he covered himself in lemon juice and let it dry, in the same way a child might with invisible ink, he would become invisible to CCTV.

His plight came to the attention of two researchers - David Dunning and Justin Kruger who, fascinated how someone could be so utterly convinced of a “truth”, began some research of their own. They asked students to predict their results on a variety of different tests and then compared the accuracy of the predictions against the actual results. They found that the those of a lower ability would consistently overestimate their competence, while those of a higher ability tended to underestimate their competence.

This became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

I am sure you will recognise the effect in your own students, some are convinced they are going to ace an exam, while others will be sure they’re going to fail. This cognitive bias can have implications of how students revise, for those overestimating their scores, revision tends to be superficial, while the underestimaters, over-preparation and stress can then become detrimental to other subjects. As we all approach mock exam season it is worth telling this cautionary tale to students - so we’ve put together a few slides which you might like to use.

If you are interested in booking in student sessions or learning more about our online portal, please use my booking link below to arrange a call. (Christmas Jumpers optional!)

Aaaand that’s it for 2023 from us. Just another week or so to go. Hang in there folks, and we’ll see you in the new year!

All the best to you and yours,

Tony, Steve and Martin