Metacognition is thought to be one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways students can boost their academic performance. Research shows that successfully implementing metacognitive strategies alongside self-regulation strategies can increase student progress by up to 8 months for primary students, up to 7 months for secondary students.
In part one of this three-part blog series, we covered four metacognitive strategies students should utilise in the Planning stage of a task.
In this blog, we will be unpacking five metacognitive strategies teachers should be encouraging their students to use during the Doing stage of a task...
Many students are scared to ask their teachers or peers for help for fear of looking "stupid" or like they weren’t paying attention. However, if a student gets stuck, it’s important that they ask for help to avoid cementing any misconceptions or misunderstandings they may have into their long-term memory. Asking questions allows students to not only consolidate their knowledge, but it also enables students to figure out what topics or concepts they don’t understand as well. As a result, they perform better academically.
Research shows that seeking clarification on things we’re unsure about can reduce stress, self-doubt and worry and improve overall well-being, as it makes us feel less alone and more connected to others. Asking questions is also the sign of a high-performing student: it allows them to seek feedback and advice on how to improve or adapt their strategies so they can become a better learner.
Engage in self-questioning
Just like during the planning stage of a task, it’s also important that students engage in self-questioning whilst they’re doing the task. This will not only allow them to see whether they’re on track, but also to start reflecting on their performance and determine whether any goals need to be tweaked. Research shows that students who engage in metacognitive thought have better learning gains, memory recall and academic performance in areas such as reading comprehension and science.
5 questions that a student can ask themselves whilst completing a task are:
- “Am I on the right track?"
- “Have I made my point?”
- “What can I do differently?”
- “Have I allocated enough time?”
- “Who can I ask for help?”
It’s not enough to make a plan at the beginning: students have to constantly be monitoring their progress whilst completing a task. Monitoring your progress is the best way to ensure you’re on track to meet those short-term and long-term goals you set yourself and to see whether you need to adapt your strategies to the obstacles you’ve encountered. It also helps you identify whether your goals are translated into action - even when starting with good intentions, people often fall back into old habits when dealing with something new.
The more time and effort students spend in the planning stage, the easier self-monitoring is as they know exactly what they want to work towards. Asking yourself questions, having clear deadlines, referring to your goals and having a checklist of the things you have already done and still need to do are a few great ways to track progress.
Self-regulation can be defined as one’s ability to manage their thoughts, feelings, and actions whilst striving towards a goal and is a key trait needed for success. Students with good self-regulation strategies have strong intrinsic motivation, are self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are less likely to procrastinate. On the other hand, students who are impulsive aren’t as good at delaying gratification, regulating their learning activities, staying on task and are easily distractible.
So how can students improve their self-regulation? Here are two self-regulating strategies students can use:
- Manage time effectively - Make sure students are sticking to the deadlines they set themselves during the Planning stage and are adapting their strategies based on how long the task is taking them.
- Remove distractions - Research shows that after being distracted, it takes around 25 minutes to get back to focusing on the task at hand. So, that quick 2-minute Instagram scroll? It’s really a 27-minute distraction. Students who perform best are those who ask themselves “where do I work best?”. This may be in the library for some, or at their desk with their phone in another room so they’re concentrating on the task at hand for others.
Students with high levels of resilience maintain their intrinsic motivation despite experiencing challenges or setbacks and don’t give up easily when working towards a long-term goal. When working on a new or difficult task, students can find it daunting and fall back on the “I can’t” mentality. Those two words can have a big impact on students’ self-confidence which can stop them from even trying. However, with a bit of perseverance and self-belief, students may surprise themselves.
Students should reframe stressful situations into opportunities to become better learners. Any mistakes made along the way should be an opportunity for students to try different methods and techniques as problems may have more than one solution. Alternatively, when students are stuck, they should ask themselves metacognitive questions such as “What could I do differently?” so they’re in a position to overcome obstacles along the way.
Want to learn more about using metacognitive strategies before, during and after a task?
- Read part 1 of this series, all about the Planning part of the metacognitive process
- Read part 3 of this series, all about the Reviewing part of the metacognitive process
And for more information on metacognition, check out our complete guide on how to improve metacognition in the classroom.