Of Learning (TaCOL)
The TaCOL program stems from the research work conducted
by the program's developer, Dr Ian Macdonald. During ten years of teaching,
and an equal number of years involved in research for his Masters degree,
PhD, and in Post-Doctoral research, it became apparent that most students
at school had little idea of what was required to be a good learner. They
lived highly stressed lives grappling with a course they did not understand,
using simple, teacher-dependent learning strategies carried over from primary
school. Although schools tried to teach the subject contents, they did not
teach how to learn it.
In this research students were not just trained in a range
of "study skills", but learned how and why powerful general learning
and organisation strategies worked. Informed, empowered and motivated, radical
improvements in learning outcomes occurred.
TaCOL is not a remedial program. It is most effective with
mid range students entering their VCE (or equivalent) who have good work
habits, but are not yet achieving the results they would like. However,
post graduate university students have also found the program applicable
Central to the program is the development of a "learning
community" of participants. Each TaCOL group starts the program at
the same time, and remains together. New members are not generally accepted
to an established group, as the peer support and trusts developed amongst
each member are important parts of the program.
- Developing an understanding of the purpose of school
for each student, and identifying goals.
- Clarifying the role of a student in schools, and the
characteristics of the good and poor student.
- Looking at what it means to learn, and some issues
related to the complexity and diversity of "learning".
- Establishing a model of learning to use as a reference
point for analysis of learning situations.
- Establishing a language to communicate about learning.
- Raising awareness of the approach each student uses
to his or her learning, and developing self monitoring capabilities.
- Developing organisational techniques.
- Developing an individualised plan for improved learning.
- Training in some powerful learning strategies.
Subsequently students are encouraged to:
- Developing more sophisticated learning strategies.
- Improving their understanding of "learning"
and the way schools and the VCE operate.
- Developing a more sophisticated model of learning.
- Using the group to analyse each student's learning
situation and plan appropriate strategies.
- Considering the role of parents, teachers and friends
in learning situations.
- Developing more advanced organisation strategies.
- Train in behavioural psychology techniques for controlling
- Providing group support and encouragement during stressful