What helps make a student successful? You, the instructor, play an important role in their achievement, providing them with the knowledge, insights, and training they need for success. But students themselves must also be strategic learners, ready to actively engage in the learning process.

In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, authors Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie discuss the qualities that help students learn how to learn, and do so successfully. We’ve summarized four of them below. In addition, we have included previous posts that you can use as talking points with students should they approach you with a desire to improve their study time and learning habits.


Qualities of Strategic Learners

Confidence. When faced with a new learning experience or assignment, they approach it with a positive, proactive attitude. They also consider, and plan for, how they will complete their tasks.

Need some tips to share with students? Read our related post, “Positive Habits that Lead to Student Success.”


Persistence and diligence. They set goals and work hard to achieve them, even in the face of challenges and adversity.

Related post: “Tips for Students: How to Reach Your Academic Goals in College.”


Self awareness. They know and understand their strengths as students, and are willing to reach out to instructors, advisors, or peers if they need clarification, guidance, or assistance.

Related post: “Tips for Students: How to Let Your Instructor Know You’re Struggling.”


Self motivation and self efficacy. These students take ownership of their learning experience. They actively participate in the learning process, realizing that in order to learn, they need to put in the effort. They also realize that they can build their study skills in the areas where they are lacking (McKeachie and Svinicki, 293-295).

Related post: Helping Students take Charge of Their Own Attitudes


For more tips that help learners build their study skills and academic habits, read our tips for students.
Reference: Svinicki, Marilla, and Wilbert J. McKeachie. 2014. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers,14th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

How do you support student motivation and strategic learning? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments.