Metacognitive Strategies


The key to metacognition is to encourage students to manage their own learning instead of passively absorbing material. Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers use the phrase “drive your brain” as a metaphor to explain to students how they can become more aware of their learning. In addition, promoting a growth mindsethelps students understand that learning isn’t fixed: Through dedication and hard work, they can learn to be more resilient and overcome many challenges that may otherwise feel impossible. Simply being aware that there’s a difference between a fixed and a growth mindset is one of the most effective metacognitive strategies that students can benefit from.

During class, encourage students to ask questions. Keep in mind that struggling students may not know what questions to ask, or may feel too embarrassed to ask any. Don’t assume that every student understands the material just because no one asks a question. Use low-stakes formative assessment strategies like exit tickets, pop quizzes, or the classic “One-Minute Paper” to identify gaps in knowledge and guide future lessons (Heitink et al., 2016; Marzano, 2012; Sundberg, 2010).

During class, students should ask themselves:

  • What are the main ideas of today’s lesson?
  • Was anything confusing or difficult?
  • If something isn’t making sense, what question should I ask the teacher?
  • Am I taking proper notes?
  • What can I do if I get stuck on a problem?


To close the gap between what your students know and what will be on a test, encourage them to quiz themselves instead of just rereading and highlighting a text. This not only boosts long-term retention but also bridges the gap between familiarity with a topic and deep understanding of it (Adesope et al., 2017; Smith et al., 2013).

Before a test, students should ask themselves:

  • What will be on the test?
  • What areas do I struggle with or feel confused about?
  • How much time should I set aside to prepare for an upcoming test?
  • Do I have the necessary materials (books, school supplies, a computer and online access, etc.) and a quiet place to study, with no distractions?
  • What strategies will I use to study? Is it enough to simply read and review the material, or will I take practice tests, study with a friend, or write note cards?
  • What grade would I get if I were to take the test right now?


Don’t let students receive a graded test and file it away without using it as a tool for further learning. Try using exam wrappers, short handouts that students complete after a test is handed back. These worksheets encourage students to review their test performance and improve their study strategies throughout the school year (Gezer-Templeton et al., 2017).

After a test, students should ask themselves:

  • What questions did I get wrong, and why did I get them wrong?
  • Were there any surprises during the test?
  • Was I well-prepared for the test?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • Am I receiving useful, specific feedback from my teacher to help me progress?

From edutopia

Comments are closed.