Why is it important for today’s students to build skills in self-awareness and self-advocacy?

Student studying online
Pearson Online Academy UK Global


Pearson Online Academy UK Global has been founded on Pearson’s 20-plus years’ expertise in designing a full online learning experience. One lasting benefit of online learning is a heightened capacity for self-management and independence – skills that pay off handsomely for students when they go on to higher education and the world of work. But exactly how does an online school help student build those skills? 

We ask Mickey Revenaugh, Vice President, Business Development - Pearson Global Online Learning, to share her views. 

Q. How do students benefit from becoming more independent as learners – and what role do self-awareness and self-advocacy play?  

A. We hear from universities and employers that young people who know themselves as learners and are able to propel themselves are markedly better prepared to succeed than their peers who need constant direction and supervision. Online learning by its very nature helps build those skills, and we work very intentionally to super-charge them. 

Q. How do you support self-awareness and self-advocacy in students?  

A. By empowering our students to have more self-awareness of their own learning, or metacognition, we can help them to recognise when misunderstandings might occur, even before they are conscious of them.  

Helping students increase their metacognition, or ‘thinking about their own thinking’ can be done through activities like ‘think-aloud’ or ‘stop and jot’, and by making thought processes the focus of our questions rather than content. For example, by asking students to visualise and explain how they will approach an independent task, rather than simply asking if they have ‘any questions.’ 

We can also help students to recognise the physical signs of feeling frustrated or confused, such as a raised heart rate, sweat, and tension in the upper body, that indicates that they might be struggling to understand a lesson. Increased self-awareness can help students to recognise that they need to ask for our help. 

Teachers always welcome questions from students during the LiveLessons and we support them in asking for help by giving them verbal frames (“Excuse me, Mr. Green, I don’t understand…”), sentence frames (to help build a specific sentence asking for help), and by teaching them how to tell us exactly what they found difficult and the different ways they can share this with us. 

We encourage our students to ask for help both in and out of lessons. Our flipped classroom approach specifically makes time for this by making teachers available for individual sessions with students (for a minimum of one hour a day), in order to help them with any questions or uncertainties they might have.   

We encourage students to book these one-to-one sessions, rather than rely on email and any teacher, who has identified that help is needed based on the student’s use of the interactive study materials and the self-assessment at the end of the lesson, will also schedule these sessions when required. 

Q. What do you do to build self-management skills in your online students? 

A. Our students are required to take responsibility of their education by setting goals, working independently (including a minimum of 30 hours a week on schoolwork) and exploring their future career and university options.  

We know that students who learn to take charge of their own learning are more often successful. Supported by the structure of a complete school programmes, alongside super curricular activities and support from expert teachers and success coaches, our students are able take this control, improve independence and self-discipline, develop transferable skills such as self-management and cross-cultural collaboration; build their wellness and become valuable members of society.