Metacognition: The hidden
key to learning?
Teachers Talking
What is Metacognition?
Case Studies Tanner, 2012
Imagine two students from your course
independently visit your office the week after the
first exam. Both students:
Are majors from your department.
Attend class regularly/submit assignments on
Appear eager, dedicated, and interested.
What is Metacognition?
Case Studies, cont Tanner, 2012
Student #1
Expresses happiness that the exam was on a Monday,
because that allowed a lot of time to prepare the previous
Started studying after work on Saturday evening and did
not go out with friends that night.
Reread assigned textbook material/ made flashcards of the
bold words in the text.
Feels that she should have done well on the test because
she studied all Saturday night and all day on Sunday.
Wants you to know that she studied really hard, so she
should get a good grade on the exam.
What is Metacognition?
Case Studies, cont Tanner, 2012
Student #2
Reviewed PowerPoint slides each evening after class.
Compared the ideas in the PowerPoint slides with the
information in the textbook to see how they were similar
and different.
Identified places in which things seemed not to agree
and/or were confusing; kept a list of confusions.
Brought them to weekly study group with peers from her
course lab section.
Attends office hours to ask you about a couple of things
that were still confusing.
Tall in the the saddle
Metacognition in Theory
On average, teachers present content about an average of 110
word per minute during a lecture
On average, students can write an estimated 17 words per minute
Metacognition in Practice
Metacognition in Reality
Not just another “education” buzz word…
We know it is incredibly important in learning…
35 years of research (Flavell, 1979)
•Supported in diverse areas of research: Cognitive
Psychology, Educational Psychology, Learning Sciences
•Personal commitment and consistency of findings:
28 of my 30 published journal articles are based on studies
that used metacognition to explain learning
Statistically significantly predicted learning outcomes
instructional strategies for supporting
Metacognitive Support (I)
Exit Cards
I understand….
I do NOT understand….
Metacognitive Support (II)
SRL prompts
Many UGs do not self-regulate their learning
Planning Questions (before learning): What do you
already know about ______?
Monitoring questions (during learning): What have
you learned so far? What questions do you have
and/or is there anything you do not feel like you
Reflection (after learning): What did you learn about
Metacognitive Support (III)
KWL Charts
Provide opportunities for students to express:
what they know (K);
wants to know (W);
has learned (L)
Metacognitive Support (IV)
Metacognitive Note-taking
Dynamic interplay between content & understanding
Metacognitive Support (V)
Surrounds existing assignment/activity and encourages metacognition
Lecture wrappers: 3 important points
Exam wrappers: Predict exam performance, describe
study strategies; reflect and modify
Homework wrappers: Predict difficulty, reflect and modify
Metacognitive Support:
What strategies do you use to support students’
“thinking about their thinking”? Why do you use
these strategies? How do you know if they are
Which of the discussed metacognitive strategies
would be helpful in your courses?