Highcliffe Learning Hub


Posted 03/03/2019 17:07:03 by mmcguinness

 Learning to Learn: Metacognition in the Classroom

Research by Adey has indicated that learning potential is increased when pupils can think about and control their own learning strategies. This process is known as metacognition and prompts students to solve-problems, have a self-awareness of their performance and the steps required to develop a skill/ transfer a skill.

Adey developed a system of cognitive acceleration in science education which challenged students to examine the processes they use to solve problems. In doing so, it is argued that pupils are enhancing their thinking processes. Other researchers have reported that the transfer of learning between tasks is enhanced where the teacher cues the learners in to the specific skills being learned. Claxton further argues that learners need to learn to learn and teachers’ endeavours would be more profitable if they concentrated on teaching pupils how to learn (Claxton, 2002).


Do you give your pupils an opportunity during each lesson to think about the strategies they are learning?

How have they reached a particular conclusion?

Are they aware of how their skills transfer to other tasks?      

Do they reflect on how they have solved problems?   

 Examples of metacognition in the classroom

Learning to Learn Lesson Objectives

Give students a Learning to Learn Objective giving an overview of the skills they are developing throughout the lesson such as the ability to evaluate or use judicious quotations to back up their ideas. Make links between different subjects explicit and how this skill will be utilised in the outside world.

Skills Journal

Encourage students to bring in a notepad/ allow a section in their exercise book for reflection. They could record how well they have worked on a particular task/ their strengths/ challenges/ problems they have solved and the key skills they have learnt throughout this process. Encourage them to reflect on how this skill can be used in other subjects/outside world.  

Boarding Pass

The boarding pass can be used as a plenary where students get to evaluate what skills/knowledge they have achieved throughout the lesson! Teachers can explain where they will be going on their expedition at the beginning of the lesson to make students aware of skills they will develop. Alternatively, you could make your students guess what the learning objectives were at the end of your lesson and the skills they have enhanced as a result!

Meta Starters

What do you want to learn today?

What skills do you have that could be useful this lesson?

What might hinder your thinking?

When have you had to think like this before?

What have you learnt that is similar?

What do you already know

that might be useful?

What are the signposts to your learning?

(must, should, could)

Meta Main

What are you currently thinking about?

Has any of the lesson so far been about you?

What connections have you made?

How do you feel about the lesson?

How have you got involved in the lesson?

What should you do to further your thinking?

What breakthroughs have you made?

What do you want to know more about?

Meta Dessert

How are you going to remember this learning?

What is the key aspect you will

remember from this lesson?

What has this lesson reminded you of?

Which senses were most important?

What did you learn that you didn’t know before?

What have you learnt that could

be useful elsewhere?

What have you learned elsewhere that is like this?

How will you apply what you have learnt?

 Taking this further...

Let’s Think Lessons

King’s College London developed a research project called ‘Cognitive Acceleration’ with metacognition at the core of their project. They designed a sequence of ‘Let’s Think’ lessons which were tried and tested across various secondary schools, mainly in London.  

Let’s Think Lessons are taught once a fortnight and teachers present student with progressive learning stages outlined below:

1) The first stage is known as ‘Concrete Preparation’: explanation of the topic, stimulating students’ interest and curiosity

2)Social Construction: Discussion with others to establish an understanding of the topic

3)Cognitive Conflict: Posing a challenge to resolve a problem – requires new way of thinking; understanding of topic is altered to accommodate conflict

4)Metacognitive phase: Explicit review of the thinking that has taken place

5)Bridging: Using the same kind of thinking in other contexts


This project can be accessed using the link below:


If you are interested in hearing more about this project and how it can be implemented in your subject, please get in touch with Magda.

What is the deal with cognitive acceleration?

Research over a 30 year period has shown the following benefits to Let’s Think Lessons:

Learning is permanent, i.e. does not fade with time.

Learning is cross-curricular.

Proven to have a significant effect on pupils’ capabilities with even a moderate use.


© Highcliffe School 2017 - 2021. | Admin