Basic Health Needs, Self-Image & Monitoring of Learning Behaviors and Outcomes
Basic Health Needs
Since the inability to pay attention may be caused or amplified by poor health, it is important that students attend to basic health needs. This strategy is a good "first-step" to addressing attention and listening difficulties because it is fairly straight-forward, it is probably one of the easiest strategies to implement, and it may address one of the fundamental causes of attention deficits.
Health is an ongoing, continuous process. One cannot be concerned with good health one week but not the next. Therefore, it is important that good health habits become a part of each student's routine.
The following facets of basic health needs should be discussed and evaluated with students.
- Is the student getting adequate rest and sleep?
- Does the student have a sleep routine or is sleeping erratic?
- Is the student eating two or three balanced meals a day?
- Is the student overindulgent in junk food, cigarettes, or drugs and alcohol?
- Has the student's hearing and vision been checked?
- Has the student been evaluated for attention deficit disorder?
- Has the student been screened for affective, neurologic, or chromosomal disorders?
- Does the student seek immediate medical attention for even minor illnesses?
- Does the student exercise regularly?
- Does the student meet adversities calmly and rationally or stressfully and irrationally?
- Does the student confront or avoid reality?
- Does the student worry excessively?
- How does the student handle stress?
- For more information on health and the learning process, refer to Memory Condition Manipulations on the Memory page.
A student who has difficulty paying attention and listening often performs poorly in school and social settings; this, in turn, may negatively impact his/her self-image. A student's image of him/herself can greatly affect the learning process. Find more information about self-image in the Eliminating Internal Distractions section.
The following tips may be used by instructors, advisors, counselors, tutors, and parents to help a student improve his/her self-image. Numbers 7 through 14 are from Coleman (1993, p. 90-96).
- Help the student identify his/her assets.
- Encourage the student to constantly remind him/herself about those assets.
- Heighten the student's awareness of his/her ambitions and goals, both long-term and short-term.
- Help the student to develop a realistic plan of action for reaching his/her goals.
- Encourage the student to constantly assess his/her progress toward goals, including why or why not the goals have been reached.
- Congratulate and reward the student for completing tasks or reaching goals, and encourage the student to do so for him/herself as well.
- Take notice of and praise good behavior, including learning behavior and social behavior; positive reinforcement is important for young learners as well as college students.
- Use "descriptive" praise instead of judgmental comments; for example, one might comment that a student's research paper "makes good use of examples and statistical data" rather than "this is a great paper."
- Avoid belittling or humiliating comments, and avoid comparing the student and his/her progress to other students.
- Provide the student with clear and simple instructions about a task; use as many senses as possible.
- Practice social skills with the student.
- Provide the student with social or academic situations in which he/she will be successful.
- Limit the number of decisions the student has to make.
- Discuss the student's problems in private.
Monitoring of Learning Behaviors and Outcomes
The Monitoring page contains more information and strategies about study skills assessment, causal attribution, exam debriefing, time management skills assessment, and stress vulnerability assessment.
Self-Monitoring of Learning Behavior
- Direct the student in evaluating his/her learning behaviors, offering feedback on the "correctness" of his/her evaluation.
- The student will either become confident in his/her ability to evaluate himself/ herself, or the student will become aware of his/her incorrect assumptions.
Self-Monitoring of Learning Outcomes
- Direct the student in maintaining written records of how tasks were completed, grades for tasks, professor comments, grade point averages, etc.
- Help the student learn to link inputs and outcomes for each task.
- Efficient learners are always aware of their academic standing.