Developing Self-Monitoring

Students need to think about how well they are doing both during a task and once the task is completed. This checking process is referred to as self-monitoring. Self-monitoring enables students to oversee the quality and pace of their production. Students who self-monitor during tasks are able to modify ineffective strategies or actions, for example, trying a different strategy to solve a math word problem, or rereading a difficult paragraph in a textbook to insure understanding. Self-monitoring after a task allows a student to think about the effectiveness of a strategy based on a particular outcome, for example thinking about how the amount of studying or planning relates to a high or low grade received on a test.

Here are some strategies for enhancing a student’s self-monitoring skills.

Helpful Hints

  • Use student work from previous years or fabricated work samples (such as proofreading exercises, outcomes of science experiments, math word problems, etc.) to help develop or improve students’ monitoring skills. Have students describe the steps they would use to avoid the errors found in the samples.  
  • Discuss different ways students in the class monitor the quality of their work. Explore how techniques relate to different types of activities and situations.  
  • Provide students with checklists that list the steps of a task or important components of a process to be monitored.  
  • Provide specific age-appropriate strategies for the student to use to check his/her work, for example for proofing written work COPS (Capitalization-Organization-Punctuation-Spelling) is an easy to follow strategy.  
  • Allow students to delay judgments about the quality of their work, for example, allowing a day or two to elapse between the writing of a report and re-reading the report for quality.  
  • Do not let students wait until they finish a task to check their progress or understanding. Provide students with explicit self-monitoring questions to ask themselves as they’re reading, solving a problem, etc.  
  • Have students appraise their own work. For example, set a standard of work quality for students to follow, and allow them to self-grade or appraise the quality of their work before turning it in.  
  • Have students mark their progress towards reaching a certain academic or behavioral goal, such as working for five minutes without needing a break, completing all homework for the week, checking math calculations before turning in each assignment, etc. Graphic recording (plotting their own line graphs, etc.) may be particularly reinforcing to some students.