*What is metacognition?
Metacognition describes the process involved when students plan, monitor, evaluate and make
changes to their own learning behaviours.
These processes help students to think about their own learning more explicitly and ensure that
they are able to meet a learning goal that they have identified themselves or that we, as
teachers, have set.
Metacognitive learners recognize what they find easy or difficult. They understand the demands
of a particular learning task and are able to identify different approaches they could use to tackle
Metacognitive learners are also able to make adjustments to their learning as they monitor their
progress towards a particular learning goal.
During the planning phase, students think about the explicit learning goal we have set and w
are asking them to do. As teachers, we need to make clear to students what success looks like
in any given task before they embark on it. Students build on their prior knowledge, reflect on
strategies they have used before and consider how they will approach the new task.
As students put their plan into, they are constantly monitoring the progress they are making
towards their learning goal. If the strategies they had decided to use are not working, they may
decide to try something different.
Once they have completed the task, students determine how successful the strategy they us
was in helping them to achieve their learning goal. During this evaluation phase, students think
about what went well and what didn’t go as well to help them decide what they could do
differently next time. They may also think about what other type of problems they could solve
using the same strategy.
Reflection is a fundamental part of the plan-monitor-evaluate process and there are various
ways in which we can support our students to reflect on their learning process. In order to apply
a metacognitive approach, students need access to a set of strategies that they can use and a
classroom environment that encourages them to explore and develop their metacognitive skills.
*Why teach metacognitive skills?
Research evidence suggests that the use of metacognitive skills plays an important role in
successful learning. Metacognitive practices help students to monitor their own progress and
take control of their learning. Metacognitive learners think about and learn from their mistakes
and modify their learning strategies accordingly. Students who use metacognitive techniques
find it improves their academic achievement across subjects, as it helps them transfer what they
have learnt from one context to another context or from a previous task to a new task.
*What are the challenges of developing students’ metacognitive skills?
For metacognition to be commonplace in the classroom, we need to encourage students to take
time to think about and learn from their mistakes. Many students are afraid to make mistakes,
meaning that they are less likely to take risks, explore new ways of thinking or tackle unfamiliar
problems. We as teachers are instrumental in shaping the culture of learning in a classroom.
For metacognitive practices to thrive, students need to feel confident enough to make mistakes, to discuss their mistakes and ultimately to view them as valuable, and often necessary, learning opportunities.