Get Students Thinking About Their Own Learning


Students can establish increasingly challenging objectives and acquire self-regulation when they start to organize, monitor and assess their learning. As a special education teacher and K–12 tutor, I saw that kids were frequently instructed on what to study but were infrequently given instruction on how to do it, which might leave them feeling trapped, anxious, and disengaged. I wrote my book, The Independent Learner, out of a desire to impart methods on pupils that they may utilize to develop their own agency and independence.


The concept of “metacognition” describes a student’s awareness of their own mental process. Students can self-regulate and focus their thoughts, behaviors, and activities in the direction of their objectives by using a metacognitive thinking process. Teachers can teach kids how to develop their metacognitive abilities through a process of planning, monitoring, and assessing their learning as early as kindergarten. By the third grade, kids can start applying these techniques with more autonomy and freedom.



Without a strategy, students might easily become lost in their work and feel overburdened. They might easily give up, become sidetracked, or lose focus. Students can stay away from these problems by making time for planning. A task preview, goal-setting, selecting a method, and making connections to previously taught material are all examples of planning. The following tactics assist pupils in making plans.


Prior knowledge development: By making connections between new information and what students already know, teachers can assist students in developing prior knowledge. This could take the form of having students work in groups to come up with a response to a question, view a quick introduction video or demonstration, or examine and discuss images or actual things connected to the subject being studied. Students can more effectively make predictions and prioritize information during the session with the aid of a solid baseline knowledge base.


Having pupils set goals and monitor their progress is associated with an increase in achievement of 32%. Both the student’s short-term goals for the skill they are learning and their long-term personal goals and ideals can be helped by teachers.


Organizing the procedure: Setting goals and then failing to maintain the drive and determination required to achieve them is a common occurrence. Teachers can assist students in considering the adjustments they must make to their routines and behaviors in order to go from where they are to where they want to be. Students can create a plan or checklist to track their daily accomplishments or small steps toward a goal.



When students are struggling with monitoring, they may not know when to ask for assistance or they may be unduly reliant on the teacher to ensure that they are performing their job correctly. They might lack self-efficacy or the conviction that their behaviors are affected by their efforts, or they might fail to alter their strategy when it is not working. In order to assess their level of understanding and determine whether the chosen technique is effective, students monitor their learning. The following tactics assist pupils in keeping track.


Metacognitive talk: The teacher can speak aloud when pupils are learning a new skill to make the mental process clear to them. This aids in their growth of the sophisticated thinking abilities required for that field of study. Instead of simply participating to demonstrate their expertise, teachers can encourage their students to use conversation to build knowledge. Students can learn that there are various approaches to a given problem or activity by using strategies like think-pair-share or visually illustrating their thought process.


Students can learn several techniques for summarising information and identifying important facts, details, and keywords by analyzing, prioritizing, and analyzing. A one-pager is a technique that students like to use.


Diversify: It’s crucial for pupils to have a variety of approaches and ways to approach a topic when taking on a new learning assignment. Learning is more recalled when using techniques that combine verbal and visual information. When students are familiar with a variety of approaches, they are better equipped to choose the one that suits them the best.



Students frequently do not comprehend how to apply tactics in different situations or for future problem-solving if they are not evaluating their learning. They may be aware that they made a mistake, but they are unable to explain why or what they should do differently the next time to prevent the same problem. Students reflect on whether the approach they picked was successful and what they would do differently the next time to evaluate their learning. The tactics listed below assist pupils in evaluating.


Assess: Testing should be done throughout the learning process, not only at the end. Teachers can utilize pre- and post-tests using clickers to determine what students know, assist students in prioritizing key knowledge, and evaluate learning during the course. Students can even build their own practice tests or test questions.


Ask for feedback: In the classroom, the instructor serves as a coach for the students, sharing details on the learning objectives and development. The feedback that is effective should address the following issues rather than criticizing pupils or emphasizing their personal traits:


  1. What am I trying to achieve?
  2. What strides have I already made?
  3. What should I do next?


Reflect and revise: After receiving feedback, assessment, or both, students reflect on whether their current approach is effective. They then decide what adjustments are necessary. Students may also think about places where they need assistance. Students think about and repair what went wrong as they revise. They should be able to articulate their error or what didn’t work before deciding on a plan of action to improve their job. You’ll see that this returns the metacognition cycle to the planning phase.


Teaching students the tools and tactics they will need to take a more active role in their learning is the only way to make learning truly relevant to each student. My kids have grown more independent, engaged, and capable of acting on their own thanks to the inclusion of metacognitive skills and self-regulated learning practices.