Metacognition

Metacognition is the ability to think about one’s own thinking. Schools can improve metacognition by teaching students strategies for thinking about their thinking. For example, teachers can encourage students to set learning goals for themselves, to reflect on their learning progress, and to monitor their understanding of the material as they learn it. Teachers can also model metacognitive strategies for students and provide opportunities for them to practice using these strategies. Additionally, schools can create a positive learning environment that supports and encourages metacognitive thinking.

John Hattie studied the factors that contribute to student achievement. One of his key findings is that the most effective way to improve student learning is by providing feedback to students on their progress. Hattie recommends that teachers give students regular, specific feedback on their performance and help them to set goals for improvement. He also suggests that teachers create a classroom environment that is conducive to learning and that encourages students to take an active role in their own learning.

Here are some strategies that schools can use to develop metacognition in students:

  1. Teach students metacognitive strategies, such as setting learning goals, monitoring their understanding of the material, and reflecting on their learning progress.
  2. Provide opportunities for students to practice using metacognitive strategies, such as through group discussions, writing activities, or problem-solving tasks.
  3. Encourage students to think about their thinking, such as by asking them to explain their thought process or by providing prompts that encourage metacognitive thinking.
  4. Model metacognitive strategies for students, such as by thinking aloud as you work through a problem or by sharing your own learning goals and progress with students.
  5. Create a positive learning environment that supports and encourages metacognitive thinking, such as by providing a safe and supportive space for students to take risks and make mistakes.
  6. Use formative assessment techniques, such as frequent quizzes and progress checks, to provide students with feedback on their learning and to help them monitor their own progress.
  7. Collaborate with students to set learning goals and create plans for achieving those goals, such as by involving students in setting course goals and creating individual learning plans.
  8. Encourage students to take an active role in their own learning, such as by providing opportunities for self-directed learning and allowing students to choose their own learning activities.
  9. Provide support and resources for students to develop their metacognitive skills, such as by offering tutoring or other types of academic support.

There are several ways that schools can assess whether they are successfully using metacognitive strategies. One way is to conduct regular evaluations of student’s progress to see if they are making gains in their learning and understanding of the material. Teachers can also ask students to reflect on their own learning and to provide feedback on their experiences using metacognitive strategies. Another way to assess the effectiveness of metacognitive strategies is to look at overall student performance on standardized tests and other measures of academic achievement. Additionally, schools can gather feedback from students, teachers, and parents to determine whether metacognitive strategies are having a positive impact on learning.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a UK-based organization that conducts research and provides resources to support evidence-based teaching practices in schools. According to the EEF, metacognition is an important aspect of learning and can have a positive impact on student achievement.

The EEF’s website provides several resources on metacognition, including a report titled “Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning” (https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Publications/Metacognition_and_Self-Regulated_Learning.pdf). This report reviews the research on metacognition and self-regulated learning, and provides recommendations for how teachers can support these processes in the classroom.

Here are a few key points from the report:

  1. Metacognitive skills, such as the ability to plan, monitor, and evaluate one’s own learning, are important for academic success.
  2. Students who are more self-regulated learners (i.e., those who are able to effectively use metacognitive strategies to manage their own learning) tend to have better academic outcomes.
  3. There is evidence that teaching metacognitive strategies can be effective in improving student learning and achievement.
  4. The most effective metacognitive interventions involve explicit instruction and practice, as well as opportunities for students to apply their skills in authentic contexts.

The EEF’s resources on metacognition provide further information and guidance for teachers on how to support the development of metacognitive skills in their students.

There has been a great deal of other research on metacognition and its impact on learning. Here are a few examples of research studies that have explored the topic:

  1. Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911. This study introduced the concept of metacognition and described how it plays a role in cognitive development.
  2. Schraw, G., & Dennison, R. S. (1994). Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19(4), 460-475. This study explored the importance of assessing metacognitive awareness in order to understand and support student learning.
  3. Brown, A. L., & Palincsar, A. S. (1989). Guided, cooperative learning and individual knowledge acquisition. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honour of Robert Glaser (pp. 393-451). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. This study examined the benefits of guided, cooperative learning approaches that help students develop metacognitive skills.
  4. Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58. This review article summarizes the evidence on various learning techniques that have been shown to be effective in improving student learning, including metacognitive strategies.

These are just a few examples of the many research studies that have been conducted on metacognition and its impact on learning.

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