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Metacognition and Self-regulated Learning Part 1

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

I attended three brilliant training sessions on metacognition in June 2018 and wanted to share what I learned @HuntResearchSch in York. Session 1 focused on teacher understanding of metacognition as well as Strand 1 of the Summary of Recommendations on self-regulation and student motivation.

What is metacognition?

Metacognition is having an awareness and understanding on one’s thinking. It is thinking about thinking. It is having knowledge about your own cognitive processes. Through strategies such as planning, monitoring and evaluating, it is also a way to control your thought processes. We all use metacognitive strategies to varying degrees in our teaching without even realising. For our pupils we need to make the strategies more explicit, particularly to close the disadvantage gap. How do we teach pupils to self-regulate during tasks? We need to make the metacognitive strategies explicit: teach planning, monitoring and evaluating, particularly to novice learners.

Summary of Recommendation 1 As teachers we tend to miss planning in the monitoring stage into our lessons and do not do this enough. One way of planning in monitoring is through the use of regular mini-plenaries. Another way could be by marking alongside pupils during the verbal feedback phase. When lesson planning it has been suggested that we start with the monitoring phase first. Perhaps even highlighting and depending on the stage of the pupil’s understanding of metacognition to ask them where they went wrong. This must be done at the independent learning stage of the lesson to move the learning on. Primary schools tend to do more planning and monitoring but not much evaluating. However, secondaries tend to do more planning and the other two merely follow on. One thing is clear that our disadvantaged pupils need to especially be taught explicit strategies of metacognition. Generally there is lots of monitoring in subjects such as DT but less evaluating. Let’s have a look at problem solving.

A suggestion is to start a lesson with a reflection from the previous day and use this as an assessment for learning. Another point worth considering is how well do your students carry out these tasks?So how do we keep our pupils motivated whilst carrying out these tasks?

Pupil Motivation What is pupil motivation and how can we use it to help pupils develop a growth mindset?

What becomes clear is that by creating a warm, nurturing classroom environment, can we enable our pupils to start believing in themselves, take risks and choose more academically challenging tasks.

The next thing to think about was: where pupils are not setting goals for themselves and lack motivation, how do we help them? Before we could think about helping them, we needed to understand what motivation is.

What is motivation?

Motivation is about our willingness to engage our metacognitive and cognitive skills and apply them to learning. Motivational studies will include convincing oneself to undertake a tricky revision task now- affecting our current wellbeing, as well as improving our future wellbeing in the test tomorrow.

Achievement should proceed motivation- success first then praise. If you feel success before failure you are more likely to crave success. The praise will enable you to remain successful. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation Motivation declines as pupils move through school. Learners aged 8-11 will say that their favourite subjects is the ones they are succeeding in. There are also many barriers to pupil motivation which need to be unpicked, for example: sleep, study strategies, memory, careers- goals, resilience. Stress could be seen as a barrier but should not be thought of as a negative- stress is appositive thing.

We need to think about whether learners shut down or embrace stress. If they embrace stress, how do they do this? As teachers we should think about how our classroom environments motivate pupils. Which lessons do you feel more motivated in? Why? We also need to stop doing things that are ineffective. Misconceptions Learners around 7, 8 find it harder to self regulate due to mental demand of self regulation planning is evidenced from age 4,5 and 6.

Explicit training of evaluating required- planning, monitoring and evaluating. At GCSE stage learners find it difficult to plan. The brain goes haywire, as attention moves from care giver to peers. Learners find it difficult to transfer planning across subjects. They do not transfer easily. Also they do not use flashcards very well. They need training in how to use them even at the ages of 15/16. Flashcards will be different in each subject. In science flashcards may be different to that in history. In secondary there is no hierarchy between subject knowledge and evaluating. The more subject knowledge you have the more cognitive you can be. We tend to get bogged down with teaching and not learning.

How does a child think differently in geography and maths etc? We all know that we do not learn from being told. We need the concrete first and we all approach any learning task or opportunity with some metacognitive knowledge. We naturally use metacognition to varying degrees in the classroom, and you are probably using a lot of the strategies mentioned above, however, we can always refine these further.

I do hope this blog was useful. Please leave comments and thoughts below.



#metacognition #teachingandlearning #education #CPD #learning #selfregulation #teachers #primaryschool

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