How to Integrate Metacognitive Strategies in the Classroom

In order for students to understand how their own thinking works, you can apply metacognitive strategies in the classroom.
How to Integrate Metacognitive Strategies in the Classroom
Azucena Fernández

Written and verified by the teacher Azucena Fernández.

Last update: 10 June, 2023

Metacognition means thinking of one’s own thought process. Thus, it consists of recognizing one’s own thinking. Metacognitive strategies in the classroom are an important part of the teaching-learning process.

It’s important to remember that, when we speak of metacognition, we’re referring to the knowledge that each person has about their own knowledge processes. Therefore, metacognition refers, among other things, to the control of the processes you use to learn.

“I am engaging in metacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; if it strikes me that I should double check C before accepting it as fact.”

– Flavell –

Below, you’ll discover some useful classroom strategies for teaching metacognitive thinking.

Metacognition strategies in the classroom

Metacognitive modeling (think-alouds)

Among the metacognitive teaching strategies found in research, metacognitive modeling is the most widely used. This modeling involves demonstrating the specific steps to follow when using a strategy, while explaining why it’s useful.

A popular metacognitive modeling strategy is think-alouds. As a teacher explains a strategy, they explain the steps out loud. During the process, students ask questions, identify resources, and repeat statements.

After developing a process that involves thinking aloud, the statements teachers and students make regarding what they learned have positive results.

Use of instruction in metacognitive strategies in the classroom

To help students practice using metacognitive strategies in the classroom, you should teach them to think about how the strategies are used. Research has found that a very popular method of teaching is implicit instruction. It doesn’t explain how instruction is modeled. Thus, it’s a less effective model for promoting metacognitive thinking.

Teaching with explicit instruction, in which the strategy is modeled and the thought process behind it is explained at the same time, is directly related to positive achievements.

Creating a curriculum to attract students

In addition, paying attention to aspects and creating an engaging curriculum can help foster metacognition in students. In this regard, using engaging practices to enhance students’ interests provides amazing opportunities to promote the use of metacognitive skills.

Integration of student assessment

As time passes, students become familiar with what it takes to meet their teacher’s expectations. Also, they learn to develop the ability to meet requirements. An example of how students understand expectations is through evaluations (tests or exams).

Tests or exams usually contain two types of questions:

  • Firstly, convergent. Closed questions that require a specific answer.
  • Secondly, divergent. Open-ended questions, which can have multiple answers.

Ellis notes that researchers state that teachers tend to overuse convergent questionnaires. In addition, several researchers suggest that divergent questions are important for achieving metacognitive thinking in the classroom. They’re open-ended questions that allow students to reflect and self-control their performance, achieving meta consciousness.

Guided or independent practice

Another metacognitive teaching strategy is guided or independent practice. This way, students have several ways of practicing learning. The instructor can guide it. For example, using examples and feedback, or independently, when students demonstrate mastery of a subject.

As instructors, teachers, or educators, the first step in introducing metacognitive strategies into the classroom is to understand why they’re important and how they work. Pushing students to think about how they’ve come up with an answer and breaking their thinking process develops skills they can use throughout the rest of their school years and overall life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.