How to unlock the learning potential of metacognition.

Teachers are offered practical advice for using metacognition, which the research evidence suggests can boost pupils’ progress by seven months. Pete Henshaw takes a look in SecEd.

Schools should abandon “learning to learn” or “thinking skills” sessions and instead aim to teach metacognition in conjunction with subject-specific content.

New guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – curators of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit – aims to bust the myths around metacognition and offer teachers practical advice.

Metacognition and “self-regulated learning” strategies are those which get pupils to think about their own learning, and the EEF’s evidence shows that these approaches can boost pupils’ learning by the equivalent of an additional seven months of progress.

These kind of approaches might mean, for example, that secondary pupils are given the skills to be able to develop effective revision or independent learning strategies or to keep track of the subject areas they need to work on.

The report has recommendations in seven areas and “myth-busts” common misconceptions teachers have about metacognition. The seven areas are:

  • Teachers acquiring the professional understanding and skills to develop their pupils’ metacognitive knowledge.
  • Explicitly teaching pupils metacognitive strategies, including how to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning.
  • Modelling your own thinking to help pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills.
  • Setting an appropriate level of challenge to develop pupils’ self-regulation and metacognition.
  • Promoting and developing metacognitive talk in the classroom.
  • Explicitly teaching pupils how to organise, and effectively manage, their learning independently.
  • Schools supporting teachers to develop their knowledge of these approaches and expecting them to be applied appropriately.

A key problem, the guidance warns, is that schools often think such skills need to be taught separately in specific sessions, often branded “learning to learn” or “thinking skills”.

However, the report warns that metacognitive strategies should be taught in conjunction with specific subject content as pupils find it hard to transfer these generic tips to specific tasks. It also busts the myth that metacognition is a higher order skill and therefore more important than subject knowledge.

Read the full article How to unlock the learning potential of metacognition.

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Hmmm. As soon as I see a claim quantified by a time frame, ie seven months, I become suspicious. Call me cynical but these just appear to be fine words around a familiar theme. Another day, another initiative (or fad). I’m now going to look up metacognition.

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