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Metacognition

Metacognition

To thrive in the 'fourth industrial revolution' will require humans to be able to adapt and to do so quickly. We will all need a ‘tool kit’ of learning strategies to make fast improvements. To choose the right tool we will need to be able to reflect on what’s working for us and what isn’t.

This metacognitive skill is crucial for future proofing students beyond the school gates. It also has significant benefits for grade attainment, behaviour and well-being in the classroom.

What is Metacognition?

At Thinking Matters we see metacognition more broadly than most. By definition it encompasses a knowledge of cognition, in itself not easy to define, which incorporates an awareness of thinking processes, an understanding of how we learn (including memory) and the development of different types of thinking ‘beyond’ knowledge.  

The classicists tell us metacognition is ‘beyond’ cognition but whilst it is certainly the ability to reflect on one’s cognition, it is so much more than ‘thinking about thinking’.

Metacognition goes beyond reflection. It requires us to consider goals and to be able to plan, monitor and evaluate our progress towards those goals. More than that it requires us to be consciously aware of strategies we can use to make progress and to adopt the appropriate strategy at the appropriate time.

At Thinking Matters we feel it is too narrow to confine metacognition to reflecting only on our thinking processes. We believe that being metacognitive of our learning behaviours and dispositions also fall under the 'meta' umbrella, as well as an understanding of what drives our skills, knowledge and behaviour - our motives. 

It is this, consciously broad, definition of metacognition that we aim to achieve.  We seek to help schools create a culture where metacognition is valued and where teachers nurture metacognitive learners. It is our belief that in these Thinking Schools students will be armed with the minds and mindsets to succeed in a fast changing future. 

The Impact of Metacognition 

There are numerous studies showing the positive impact of metacognition on academic progress. The highly respected EEF, has recently shown it to be amongst the most powerful and cost effective of interventions, one that adds an additional seven months to learner progress. That translates to an increased GCSE and SATs grade above predicted scores.

Metacognition in Thinking Schools 

Developing metacognitive and self reflective learners is at the heart of our approach and is central to the success of pupils within Thinking Schools.

Teachers (Cognitive Coaches) in Thinking Schools explicitly teach pupils metacognitive strategies. Their aim is to enable their students not only to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning but also to then know which strategies to use to make progress.

In order for metacognition to become habitual, and therefore most effective, we recommend adopting it at a whole school level. The best way to do that is to follow our Core Approach.  However, this won’t suit all schools and for those we offer bespoke variations on that approach. We also offer a range of metacognitive tools to support the work that schools may already have done in embedding metacognition. 

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