How Learning Works

Ten Metacognitive Teaching Strategies
Helping Students Learn How to Learn

 meta = ‘about’ and cognition = thinking

Metacognition: Purposefully thinking about one’s own thinking strategies – when people are able to “learn to think” and “think to learn”

Metacognition is the regulatory system people use to understand and control own cognitive (brain) performance. It involves people being very aware of how they learn, what strategies meet their needs, evaluating the effectiveness of strategies and then implementing the best plan of action to optimally learn.

Learn more about: Ten Metacognitve Teaching Strategies

Learners with Strong Metacognitive Skills

  • Know the limits of their own memory for a task and elicit help where required
  • Do frequent self-assessments of their knowledge to ensure they can figure out how well they are learning something
  • Self-monitor frequently and use a variety of strategies to learn
  • Undertake careful rehearsal of a skill in order to gain confidence and competence
  • Plan effectively at many levels and see the big picture of learning

There is a need to teach for metacognitive knowledge explicitly….we are continually surprised at the number of students who come to [university] having very little metacognitive knowledge; knowledge about different strategies, different cognitive tasks, and particularly accurate knowledge about themselves. (Pintrich, 2002)

Metacognition Resources:

Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI)

The MAI consists of 52 questions that cover these two components of cognition. They found through their research there was strong support for both of these factors and that they were also related as had been suggested by previous researchers.

Handout: Metacognitive Awareness Inventory

Approaches to Learning

This handout contains 21 statements you could pose to students to start them thinking about how they think and think about how they learn. Ideally we hope to have students utilizing deep approaches to learn rather than surface approaches. Strategic approaches are somewhere in between the two but don’t really result in longer term and meaningful learning

Handout: Approaches to Learning - Deep Strategic Surface

Strategies to Help You Be a Successful Student: Learning and Studying Tips

Metacognitive strategies are techniques that help people become more successful learners. This handout has our 14 top metacognitive strategies for learners. These strategies are desinged to help your learners focus and rethink the way they study and learn.

Handout: Successful Learning for Students

Handout: Metacognition Package

We have prepared an easy to read handout containing the same information as this page:
Ten Metacognitive Teaching Strategies

The link will open the document in a new window or tab. Depending on your browser settings, the document may automatically download.

Resources for your Learners

Learn How to Learn for your students is a page on our Learning Matters website. Students will learn about metacognition as well as some tips + tricks from videos, handouts, and resources on the page.When you have brain-researched focused learning and studying tips your students will have the skills they need to learn how to learn.

Learn more about: Learn How to Learn (Learning Matters)