A SWOT analysis of a student is a learning tool a teacher can use with a student to get him to recognize his strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which are the areas represented by the acronym SWOT. Such an analysis consists of a worksheet or template that asks the student to fill in information on his strengths and weaknesses — the internal measures of a SWOT analysis — and opportunities and threats — the external measures. This type of analysis and reflective self-evaluation can be used for various reasons and at various times to help students focus on positives and overcome negatives. It can be given to a whole classroom of students at the beginning of a project, the start of the school year or after mid-semester grades have been released, or it can be used individually with students who are struggling. Ideally, students will have opportunities to discuss their SWOT analysis with their teacher, who can help them to think reflectively and realistically and set appropriate short-term or long-term educational goals.
Strengths are one of the areas included in a SWOT analysis of a student. These can include academic strengths as well as social, emotional and interpersonal strengths. The student can be guided to list his strengths, as well as the three other areas, by being asked to answer in detail certain focused questions. The strengths of a student could include things such as aptitude in a certain academic area, effective communication skills, success in hands-on learning activities, creativity and a positive attitude toward learning. A student’s strengths should be regarded as areas on which to focus and develop to help meet educational goals and overcome academic challenges.
Weaknesses also are included in a SWOT analysis of a student. These might include internal factors such as lower aptitude or decreased interest in certain academic areas, disorganization, lack of success using certain learning styles and specific learning disabilities. Students can benefit from being able to identify their own weaknesses and trying to improve in those areas. Even if they cannot overcome some weaknesses, such as learning disabilities, they can use their areas of strength to compensate and improve.
Opportunities are possibilities that are open to a student so he can try to make the most of strengths and minimize difficulties resulting from weaknesses. They could include strategies to utilize learning style preferences or interests to maximum advantage or ways to incorporate things that motivate and engage to maintain greater focus. Opportunities also could be external things that are available to help the student, such as one-on-one tutoring, modifications the teacher is willing to make in teaching, and special programs related to areas of the student’s interests and strengths.
Threats, the fourth area of a SWOT analysis, include external factors that have the potential to keep the student from learning. Bullies, problems getting along with a teacher or other school employee, or anything that makes the student feel embarrassed, sensitive or threatened could be included in this area. It also could include factors that might make the student feel less motivated, such as certain subjects or other external conditions. Overall, this type of analysis can be used to help a student set attainable short-term and long-term goals, increase understanding and cooperation between the student and his teacher, and help the student to become more responsible for and attentive to his own learning.