Promoting Metacognition: A Teacher’s Guide

Promoting Metacognition: A Teacher’s Guide

Metacognition, the ability to think about one’s thinking, plays a crucial role in student learning and academic success. Metacognition is the key to independent learning; students who know themselves are able to see ways to leverage strengths and overcome challenges in order to succeed. As educators, understanding and promoting metacognitive skills can have a profound impact on our students’ ability to monitor and regulate their own learning processes. In this post, we will explore the concept of metacognition and provide practical strategies for incorporating metacognitive practices in the classroom.

What Is Metacognition?

Dr. Lynn Meltzer, founder and president of the Research Institute for Learning and Development and creator of SMARTS, explains:

“Metacognition at its core is thinking about how you think, learning about how you learn, and understanding who you are as a student.”

Metacognition includes the ability to reflect on learning goals, assess progress, identify effective strategies, and make adjustments as needed. By teaching students to be metacognitive, we empower them to become active learners and take ownership of their learning.

Fostering Metacognition in the Classroom

  • Promote self-reflection: Encourage students to think about their learning experiences, identify what strategies work best for them, and evaluate their progress towards achieving learning goals.
  • Teach explicit metacognitive strategies: Introduce techniques such as self-questioning, concept mapping, and journaling to help students develop metacognitive skills.
  • Scaffold learning tasks: Provide clear instructions, models, and guided practice to help students develop metacognitive strategies for approaching complex tasks.

Metacognition and Reflection

  • Encourage self-assessment: Teach students how to evaluate their own work and provide constructive feedback to themselves. Using Top 3 Hits, a SMARTS strategy from Unit 7 Self-Monitoring and Checking, students can check for their most common errors in previously graded assignments. As a result, they generate a list of their personal Top 3 Hits to look for in future assignments.
  • Reflect on learning processes: Incorporate opportunities for students to reflect on their learning experiences, identify challenges, and set goals for improving.

By incorporating metacognitive practices in our teaching, we empower students to become independent learners who can regulate and optimize their own learning processes. Through self-reflection and explicit instruction, we can equip our students with essential metacognitive skills that will benefit them beyond the classroom.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development: