Download - Modelling and Metacognition in Action - Alex Mitchell, Assistant Principal Gateway Academy

Modelling and Metacognition 

There is some evidence, at least in terms of metacognition, that modelling and thinking aloud should not be too specific as this may inhibit students’ reflection. Indeed, as the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), says, “some ‘deliberate difficulty’ is required so that students have gaps where they have to think for themselves and monitor their learning with increasing independence”.


Teachers need to set an appropriate level of challenge if they are to help develop students’ metacognition and self-regulation because if they are not given hard work to do – if they do not face difficulty, struggle with it and overcome it – they will not develop new and useful strategies, they will not be afforded the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and they will not be able to reflect sufficiently on the content with which they are engaging.


Moreover, if students are not made to think hard, they will not encode new information into long-term memory and so learning will not occur.


The EEF offers some useful questions for students to ask that gauge the difficulty level of the work they’re doing:


Knowledge of task:

  • Is this task too challenging for me?

  • What are the most difficult aspects of this task?

  • How much time should I devote to this task?

  • Are there easy bits I can get “done”?


Knowledge of self:

  • Is this task asking for subject knowledge I can remember?

  • Do I understand the concept(s) that underpins this task?

  • Am I motivated to stick at this tricky task?

  • What can I do to keep myself focused?


Knowledge of strategies:

  • Are my notes effective for understanding this task?

  • Do I need to ask the teacher for help?

  • What strategies can I deploy if I am stuck?

  • What can I do to ensure I remember what I’ve learned?