Research Conversations: Self Awareness

Author: Leader in Me
December 5, 2023


In this episode of Change Starts Here: Research Conversations, cognitive neuroscientist Eve Miller, Ph.D. and former educators Jennifer Chevalier, Ed.D. and Kim Yaris, M.Ed. explore the crucial role of self-awareness in the development of students’ executive function and the impact it can have on academic achievement.


Self-awareness is the capacity to acknowledge, comprehend, and articulate one’s own emotions, thoughts, and sentiments while also recognizing personal strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and values. This essential skill enables individuals to make informed decisions, cultivate meaningful relationships, and navigate diverse life circumstances. Self-awareness is the foundation of executive functions such as metacognition, self-reflection, and goal-directed persistence, which are skills essential for academic success.

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Shifting from WHY to WHAT

Oftentimes, when people feel frustrated or upset, the inclination is to ask “why?” questions like:

  • Why are you feeling that way?
  • Why do you think that happened?

Questions such as these cause people to focus on their fears and shortcomings rather than rationally assess their strengths and weaknesses.

To help people develop their self-awareness and empower them to act on new insights, ask “What” questions instead:

  • What do you think happened?
  • What will you do?
  • What can you try?
  • What are your choices?

More Information

Why Self-Awareness is Essential for Career Success
This article summarizes how the development of self-awareness fosters essential workplace skills such as empathy, communication, and decision-making, contributing to career success.

How to Use Metacognition Skills to Become More Self-Aware | by Thomas Oppong | Personal Growth | Medium
This article describes metacognition and explains how being metacognitive leads to increased self-awareness.

What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)
In this article, Harvard researcher Tasha Eurich explains some of the biggest roadblocks, myths, and truths surrounding self-awareness and offers insights on how to best develop it.

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