Metacognition represents an awareness of one’s own knowledge. When students practice metacognition, they are able to monitor and control their thinking processes (1). Being metacognitive can help students self-regulate their own learning more effectively (e.g., setting goals, regulating behavior).
Students may actually need stronger engagement skills, such as self-regulation, to learn effectively in today’s computer-based environments (2). Thus, instructors may need to provide assistance or “scaffolds” to help students regulate their own learning (3).
Fortunately, metacognitive skills and self-regulation behaviors can be taught (4). If you’re interested in supporting your students’ metacognition and self-regulated learning processes, consider asking students to complete the Goal-setting and Reflection Surveys in Achieve.
In addition, the following supports or scaffolds can be used to help students engage in self-regulated learning (5):
Provide students with guiding questions
Encourage student study habits using “plan ahead” prompts
Help students reflect using “look back” prompts
Teach students to use tools like concept maps or templates to help structure information as they are studying or learning
Provide students with higher-order questions and content-related goals
You can also consider encouraging students to ask themselves the following questions in order to prompt more metacognitive thinking (6).
While students are planning how they’ll approach a learning task, they can ask themselves:
What am I supposed to learn? What prior knowledge will help me with this task? What should I do first? What should I look for in this reading? How much time do I have to complete this?
As students are monitoring their understanding or performance, they can ask themselves:
How am I doing? Am I on the right track? How should I proceed? What information is important to remember? Should I move in a different direction? What can I do if I do not understand?
When students complete a learning task, they can ask themselves:
How well did I do? What did I learn? Did I get the results I expected? What could I have done differently? Can I apply this way of thinking to other problems or situations? Do I need to go back through the task to fill in any gaps in understanding?
Meichenbaum, D. (1985). Teaching thinking: A cognitive-behavioral perspective. In S. F., Chipman, J. W. Segal, & R. Glaser (Eds.), Thinking and learning skills, Vol. 2: Research and open questions. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Winters, F., Greene, J., & Costich, C. (2008). Self-regulation of learning within computer-based learning environments: A critical analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 20, 429-444.
Azevedo, R., & Hadwin, A. F. (2005). Scaffolding self-regulated learning and metacognition – Implications for the design of computer-based scaffolds. Instructional Science, 33, 367-379.
Halpern, D. F. (1996). Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Devolder, A., van Braak, J., & Tondeur, J. (2012). Supporting self-regulated learning in computer-based learning environments: Systematic review of effects of scaffolding in the domain of science education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28, 557-573.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education. (2011). Just Write! Guide. Scanlon.
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