Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Using "Predictive Visualization" for Student Success

fortune cookie A few days ago, I wrote an article titled, 2 Simple Steps to Boost Student Success.  In that article, I suggested that having students determine WHEN and WHERE they would do their assignments would greatly increase their chances of actually doing the work on time and with better quality.

These two simple steps are powerful, but their is another strategy I use with students (and teachers) to provide even more support to doing high quality work.  In most cases, I use this additional strategy in addition to "When?" and "Where?"  I call it using "predictive visualization."

What is predictive visualization?

Predictive visualization is reflecting on an assignment in a way that forms a mental image of the finished product based on what you predict is your best and most complete effort.  Predictive visualization answers the question, "What would that assignment look like once you have finished it in its best and most complete form?" There are two steps in answering this question.

  1. Predict what you think the assignment requires in its best and most complete form.
  2. Visualize how those items look once YOU have finished the work.
Once you complete a predictive visualization exercise, I suggest recording your thoughts so you can refer to them when you actually begin doing the assignment.  You can use any method to record your predictive vision as you like: bullet points, narrative, audio recording, draw a picture, etc.

Here are some other factors that contribute to a predictive visualization exercise.

  • You need to know WHAT to do before developing your predictive vision.  Having the context and parameters clearly understood is important because lack of clarity will lead to a vision that may or may not actually apply to the task.
  • The predictive vision is very personal.  It describes YOUR best and most complete effort - not what someone else would do.
  • Predictive visualization is NOT the same as making educated guesses.  With predictive visualization, you are using the power of your mind's eye to enhance your chances of success, not eliminate what yo know to be false.
  • Once you actually finish the assignment, review your predictive vision and check for similarities and differences.  This part of the exercise has the potential to help you better understand how you actually think and work, which is helpful for future predictive visualization exercises.
  • Predictive visualization is NOT the same as having an optimistic outlook.  While there are obvious benefits to having a positive view, not applying a layer of reality (which is vital in the Predictive visualization process) can lead to over-confidence, sloppy work, and careless errors.  If your task is particularly challenging, not applying a layer of reality could lead to your quitting too soon or not completing the task to an acceptable standard.
Predicting outcomes have shown to help promote learning.  Having a vision of success is also an important part of attaining your goals.  Combining the two to develop a predictive vision of your best efforts on any given assignment has the potential to take your success to a new level.

For an interesting article about using predictions to learn, read What's Your Best Guess? Predicting Answers Leads to Deeper Learning by Annie Murphy Paul.
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