If you are new to meta-cognition, it will help to ask yourself the following questions about your teaching practice.
1. Have I included clear learning objectives?
Students need to understand what their learning objectives are so that they can plan how to achieve them. The process of planning should involve learners identifying which strategies they already know that could be applied in this new situation.
2. How am I going to encourage my students to monitor their learning?
Effective learners commonly use metacognitive strategies whenever they learn. However, they may fail to recognise which strategy is the most effective for a particular learning situation. Teachers can ask questions to prompt learners to monitor the strategies that they are using.
For example, before learners begin a task, prompt them to identify where the task might go wrong and how they could prevent this from happening. During the task encourage them to focus on the learning objectives and get them to think about how they can maintain that focus. This will encourage learners to think more actively about where they are now, where they are going and how to get there.
3. How can I create opportunities for learners to practise new strategies?
When you introduce your learners to a new strategy, give them the opportunity to use it both with support and independently. It is important to monitor your learners’ progress and provide them with feedback on the specific strategies they are using to help shape their learning process. (For further ideas for giving feedback and effective questioning, see Getting started with Assessment for Learning.)
4. How can I allow time for learner self-reflection?
Personal reflection enables learners to critically analyse their performance in relation to a particular task and consider what they might do differently to improve their performance in future tasks. It is important that teachers dedicate time for learners to reflect, and provide them with the tools to do so. One way of doing this is to use thinking journals as mentioned in the previous section.
5. Does the classroom environment support metacognitive practices?
Teachers are instrumental in shaping the culture of learning in a classroom. By establishing a supportive learning environment that fosters and anticipates metacognitive practices, these practices will become an integral part of the learning process. Check that you are modeling metacognitive practices effectively, giving your learners plenty of opportunity to work collaboratively with their peers, encouraging reflection and evaluating their progress.