NewsFAQsContactEmail Us
Shutterstock 200191511

The Big Picture

The Thinking Matters approach is drawn from the science of what is proven to affect pupil’s academic and ‘whole child’ progress. We have distilled the findings of key research on what affects learning in cognitive education, and have translated the theory of ‘what works’ into a single, practical, metacognitive approach that can be used in classrooms.

PsychologyEEFHattieNeuroscienceCasta & KallickRichhart et alDweckVygotskyGardnerEricssonFeuersteinGolemanDe BonoBloomHyerle
Developing Metacognition Metacognition is "cognition about cognition", "thinking about thinking", "knowing about knowing", becoming "aware of one's awareness" and higher-order thinking skills. It is actively monitoring one’s own learning and, based on this monitoring, making changes to one’s own learning behaviours and strategies. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryMindfulness In simple terms, mindfulness is the act of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. ... To understand the role mindfulness plays in learning, it is also important to consider the nature of attention and the way we typically portray it in an educational setting. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryCoping with Pressure School is meant to be a time of self-discovery, education and self-improvement. However, it can also be one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryCreating and Breaking Habits An ability to recognise and draw on appropriate strategies to foster positive habits and control less helpful ones. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryHabits of Mind "Habit of Mind” means having a disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems, the answers to which are not immediately known. Art Costa (Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind, 16 Essential Characteristics for Success) describes a Habit of Mind as being “a pattern of intellectual behaviours that leads to productive actions. It is a composite of many skills, attitudes, cues, past experiences and proclivities.” Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibrarySelf Evaluation; Self Regulation When students evaluate themselves, they are assessing what they know, do not know, and what they would like to know. They begin to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. Self-regulated learning is closely related to the way in which people regulate their emotions, cognitions, behaviors, and environmental aspects during a learning experience. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryThinking Practice Thinking Practice is a Thinking Matters term. It is the application of deliberate practice to the development of independent dynamic thinking. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryDeliberate Practice Also known as Expert Practice. Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention, rehearsal and repetition and leads to new knowledge or skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryDistributed Practice Distributed practice (also known as spaced repetition or spaced practice) is a learning strategy, where practice is broken up into a number of short sessions – over a longer period of time. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryMotivation Understanding what motivates both pupils and staff can transform performance and wellbeing at a school. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryExercise, Diet, Sleep See also Diet and Sleep Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryMicro-mastery “Micro-mastery aims to eliminate the phenomenon of demotivation, which can often stand in the way of success. By breaking up a goal into small, achievable stages, micro-mastery encourages you to focus on a specific skill before moving onto the next one." Robert Twigger Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryPhilosophical Enquiry Philosophical Enquiry is a pedagogy which promotes the cognitive and socio-emotional skills associated with philosophical enquiry. It not only inspires but also advances and enriches questioning and thinking across the curriculum. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryNeuroplasticity This is the ability of the brain to form and reorganise synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryMemory Memory is our ability to encode, store, retain and subsequently recall information and past experiences in the human brain. In education we are interested in short term and long term memory. By understanding how our memory works, we can improve our capacity to take in, store and recall information. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryThinking Processes Thinking proceses (such as sequencing, categorising, comparing and making analogies) sit at the heart of almost all exam questions and are fundamental scaffolds for any form of problem solving and 'higher order' thinking. See also Bloom's Taxonomy and Metacognitive Visual Tools. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryMetacognitive Visual Tools “Visual tools enable students to look into their own thinking. With visual tools, students see their thinking displayed. From this public display, all students can readily share in one another’s thinking and become self-reflective on the process, content, and, most important, evolving form of their thinking.” Costa, A.L. and Kallick, B. (2008) Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind. ASCD. p.154. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryThe
Cognitive Coach
Both teaching and coaching are helping someone learn a particular skill or sharing a certain piece of knowledge, and both of them are gifts that are given to a student. ... The biggest difference is that, ultimately, teaching is about the teacher and coaching is about the student.Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking Library
Creates Optimum
Learning Environment
Optimal Learning Environments begin with a positive, productive school climate and provide intellectually and emotionally safe, stimulating classroom communities that are personalized and co-constructed by adults and students. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking Library
Questions Skillfully Effective questioning involves using questions in the classroom to open conversations, inspire deeper intellectual thought, and promote student-to-student interaction. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryUtilises Data Data is essential for evidence based practice - practice that relies on scientific evidence for guidance and decision-making. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryReinforces Common Thinking &
Learning Language
Taking a whole school approach to the teaching of thinking helps to develop a common thinking and learning language throughout the school, aided by each Coach reinforcing the practice. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking Library
Feeds Back Expertly Feedback is an essential part of effective learning. It helps students understand the subject being studied and gives them clear guidance on how to improve their learning. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryUnderstands the
"Science of Learning"
The 20th-century education system was never designed with the knowledge of the developing brain. The Science of Learning summarises existing cognitive-science research on how students learn and connects it to practical implications for teaching. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking Library
Gamifies Learning The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryMediates Mediated learning is the subtle social interaction between teacher and learner in the enrichment of the student's learning experience. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryCoachesModels An instructional strategy in which the teacher demonstrates a new concept or approach to learning and students learn by observing and making learning notes. Click the title for more information and access to the Thinking LibraryTower The image of the Control Tower represents an independent, metacognitive thinker and learner i.e. An individual in control of their own learning Progress Metacognitive learners plan, monitor and evaluate with purpose. That purpose is to improve. In the context of the classroom this can be measured in academic performance but the truly metacognitive learner can apply their skills to progress in anything.

This distillation can be seen in our Big Picture which highlights both the meta-analysis and most significant researchers on whose findings it is based. The words within the Big Picture highlight the most important elements of what works. The control tower represents the metacognitive learner. The cognitive coach represents the role of teachers within Thinking Schools. Their pedagogical art is informed by the science of learning within the Big Picture.

We believe the Thinking Matters approach to be unique in that it draws all of the pieces of the jigsaw together. Schools often describe our approach as the glue which binds their teaching and learning together. It offers a clarity of vision and purpose in their aim of developing independent thinkers and learners. It enables a common language and also a common measure of progress. All of these are crucial in creating a WHOLE SCHOOL approach and the incredibly powerful outcomes that result.

Our Consultants work with schools in how to explicitly apply the Big Picture to make it whole school - so that it is understood and used habitually by all members of the school community, across all subjects and by all student cohorts. 

In addition to enabling learners to have the necessary skills and attributes to succeed in life, adopting our Big Picture engages, retains and attracts staff through optimising their own potential as teachers. It also positions schools to confidently apply for The University of Exeter’s criteria to become an accredited Thinking School.

Learn more about what we can offer your school.

Thinking Matters Services