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How to Improve Metacognition

Everything you need to know about how to help students improve metacognition

DON’T BE PUT OFF BY THE NAME – DEVELOPING METACOGNITION STRATEGIES AND USING METACOGNITION IN THE CLASSROOM IS ONE OF THE SIMPLEST WAYS TO HELP STUDENTS IMPROVE.

How Do You Improve Metacognition in Your Students

Metacognition refers to students ability to be aware of what they are thinking about and choosing helpful thought process. It is often divided into three parts – before, during and after a task. Research from the Sutton Trust Education Endowment Foundation suggests that metacognition is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to help students make gains in their learning.

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What Is Metacognition?

Metacognition is:

  • The ability to critically analyse how you think – this means evaluating how well you performed and what caused your successes and failures

  • Having high self-awareness and control over your thoughts – actively choosing what they want to think about

  • Developing appropriate thinking strategies at each stage of a task – effective preparation, monitoring and self-evaluation
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How Do I Improve Metacognition?

There are many ways to improve metacognition. These include:

  • Self-Questioning – having students ask themselves questions such as ‘is this similar to previous tasks?’, ‘what should I do first?’ and ‘what would I do differently next time?’

  • Modelling – explaining to students how you would approach a task or exam question means they can tap into your knowledge and develop their metacognitive skills.

  • Self-Awareness – by better understanding how they approach and complete a task, students will be able to select helpful strategies

A recent review of the research found that metacognitive strategies help pupils make an average of eight months additional progress

Proven benefits in Maths, English and Science subjects and for Pupil Premium students

Blogs on how to improve metacognition

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Infographics on Metacognition for the Classroom

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is metacognition?

Metacognition is the ability to critically analyse and monitor the way we think. For students, this means evaluating their performance so that they can understand what caused their successes and failures.

How do I teach metacognition in the classroom?

You can teach metacognition by encouraging students to monitor and reflect on their performance. This will allow them to identify what they are doing well and what they can improve on. Once students have established this they should be encouraged to set goals which motivate them to make these improvements.

What are some metacognitive strategies?

Some metacognitive strategies include:

  • Setting yourself challenging but realistic goals.
  • Asking yourself effective questions that require you to think deeply about the task.
  • Monitoring your performance.
  • Seeking feedback so you can replicate what works and avoid what doesn’t.
  • Is metacognition expensive?

    No not at all. Research by the Sutton Trust showed metacognition to be one of the most effective but cheapest interventions schools can carry out, with students making on average 8 months additional progress. Improving metacognition is cheap because it doesn’t require the use of expensive materials.

    Can you recommend more stuff for me to read about how to improve metacognition?

    Here are a few good places to start:

    Do you want to help your students improve metacognition?

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