Shenea Villaronga's Portfolio Page


Combining Cognitive Learning with Growth Mindset for Middle School Students

About Me


Although I've spent many years designing unit studies for my homeschooled children, this is my first public course. I've tutored many students from diverse backgrounds and really gained insight into common academic problems. My years invested in homeschooling have really proven to me that all students learn differently.

I am currently serving as the director of community engagement for a large group of both homeschool and public school students in my area. I'm diligently working to complete my coursework in Curriculum Development and Instructional Design at SUNY Albany. I hope to both create and/or improve the quality of the academic programs I'm involved with. Enjoy!

My Topic and Purpose

Propose Effective and Useful Learning Techniques for Middle School Students Combining Metacognitive Skills and Growth Mindset Principles

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

Inform teachers about the difference between study strategies and cognitive strategies for learning

Provide case studies of middle school students to learn more about their attitudes and behaviors

Help teachers create a reflective journal as they learn about different types of growth mindset skills and cognitive methods of study

Needs Assessment

Students in middle school are often misunderstood. They often lack organizational skills. They may seem unmotivated but simply don't know where to begin. Middle schoolers undergo major biological, cognitive and social- emotional changes while enduring adolescence. These students' self-efficacy (belief that they are capable of achieving their goals) begins to decline. The reality is that some middle school students have not even mastered elementary basics.

Middle School is an invaluable time to nurture the learning ethic of students. Optimal learning for middle school students involves developing personal competence: knowing how to achieve certain results and feeling efficacious in doing so.

After participating in this course, teachers/ coaches/ mentors will have the guidance necessary to help middle school students use specific cognitive learning techniques to enhance their academic achievement. These skills will offer students the opportunity to engage with the information they are reviewing, focus their attention and practice self regulation so that they can improve their organization and positively process their conflicting attitudes.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

It is important for middle school students to be sufficiently prepared for the academic challenge of future instructional experiences before urgent interventions are needed; especially if academic failure and behavior failure are becoming ingrained habits. This instruction is for teachers, coaches and mentors involved in the pursuit of educating and/or providing academic support for middle school students. Working with middle school students can be exhaustive and demanding work, however it can also be fascinating and rewarding. There is a better chance of students reversing misbehavior and/ or academic inadequacy in middle school than for that to occur in later years.

Ideally, a team of teachers would work together to connect with middle school students and encourage a safe and supportive community wherein students and teachers understand that academic and emotional growth is necessary for future pursuits. Instruction should take place in an environment conducive to studying with materials available to enhance that study. It is recommended that these strategies be used to start the students day or be incorporated as a timed session, so that students can put into practice the strategies that have been taught. Teachers/ coaches/ mentors should be aware that these techniques are not a quick fix; these are strategies that, when used over the course of a middle school career, will produce the desired effects.

Performance-Based Objectives

Unit 1

Middle School Educators will Distinguish between Traditional Studying versus Cognitive Learning given summarized details of both methods

Unit 2

Middle School Educators will Reflect on the variety of behaviors and attitudes that middle school students hold through provided case studies

Unit 3

Middle School Educators will Identify growth mindset principles for middle school students using provided resources and summarized details

Task Analysis

Unit 1

Identify the temporary benefits of traditional studying methods and long-term benefits of cognitive learning (metacognition) methods

List specific meta-cognitive strategies helpful for middle school students

Use provided journal tips to interact with course materials

Unit 2

Recognize common behaviors and attitudes of middle school students from provided case studies

Unit 3

Identify basic principles of growth mindset philosophy and specific principles for middle school students

Explain how growth mindset pedagogy can be implemented in middle school

Use journal tips to apply both cognitive learning strategies and growth mindset skills to provided case studies or current students

Curriculum Map

Mini Course Outline

References and Resources

Babbage, Keen. 2012. The Power of Middle School: Maximizing These Vital Years. Rowman & Littlefield Education

Donna Pendergast & Nan Bahr. 2005. Teaching Middle Years: Rethinking Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment. Allen & Unwin

Richard Mayer and Patricia Alexander. 2017. Handbook of Research on Learning and Instruction. Routledge