Instructional Strategies to Support Students’ Metacognition

  • Definition of metacognition: Understanding how to manage learning and actively adjust to the demands of any learning task.
  • Strategies to set the foundation: Instructors can ask students to reflect on past courses and set goals for the current course.
  • Strategies to encourage practice: Instructors can provide time for reflection after assignments and encourage students to adjust their goals and applied learning strategies based on those reflections.
  • Spotlight: Reflection on study habits through weekly questions
    • When delivered: Throughout the course
    • Tools: Reflection questions to consider study habits and results on assessments
    • Instructors encourage students to reflect on their learning progress by asking them to answer a set of questions each week, such as What were the main ideas we discussed in class this week? What was an “aha” moment you had? What questions did you have about the topics we studied? Describe an approach another person used that was like yours as well as one that was different. What did you learn from their approaches? Instructor use reflections as low-stakes assignments that do not require extensive time for either responding or grading.
  • Spotlight: Planning for success using a matrix and schedule
    • When delivered: At the beginning of the course
    • Tools: Excel document to create schedules
    • Instructors encourage time management through various activities, such as asking students to complete a chart of how they spend their time in a typical week doing coursework and to set a specific study time before the first exam; encouraging students to identify new study strategies; and, after the exam, having students complete a matrix in an Excel worksheet indicating why they think they got exam questions wrong. They also reflect on how much time they put into preparing for the exam, what strategies they used, and what they think helped them succeed. They identify three things to do differently on the next exam.