Aimee Dars Ellis' Portfolio

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Metacognitive strategies can help students learn more effectively. However, many educators are not fully integrating metacognition into their courses. This mini-course will review the theory of metacognition and describe ways that educators can integrate metacognitive strategies into their lessons.

Needs Assessment


Metacognition has been linked to improved learning in disciplines as diverse as accounting (Schleifer & Dull, 2009) and drama (Johnson, 2002) and across grade levels (Joseph, 2010). Despite the utility of metacognition and the general awareness of the concept, many myths and misconceptions around metacognition persist (Warner-Dobrowski & Belisle, 2012). Additionally, the confusion surrounding the distinction between metacognition and self-regulation encumbers the effective instruction of metacognitive strategies. Finally, an educator's ability to teach metacognitive strategies depends on that educator's background in and familiarity with metacognition.

It is difficult to obtain data regarding the prevalence of teaching metacognitive strategies. One study, conducted in Turkey, found that student teachers used metacognitive strategies at a moderate rate, but didn't optimize the material (Yeşilyurt, 2013). Currently, I hypothesize that there is a gap between the effective teaching of metacognitive strategies and educators' familiarity with metacognition. The intent of this mini-course is to reduce the size of the gap by helping educators understand the importance of metacognition to student outcomes, describing the three key metacognitive strategies (planning, monitoring, and evaluating; Fogarty, 1994), and developing techniques for teaching metacognition to students.

Although I couldn't find any research on this topic, when looking at applications of metacognition in educational settings, my impression is that many educators use the basic idea of "thinking how to think" when discussing metacognition but do not necessarily drill down into the the three separate components of metacognition. This may be due to practical considerations, however, I hope to deepen participants' understanding of the concept of metacognition and with that increase the tools available to them to help students succeed.

Gathering Information

To assess the extent to which educators provided instruction in metacognitive strategies and their interest in learning more about integrating metacognition in their courses, I administered a survey utilizing convenience and snowball sampling, sending a request to a small number of educators and asking them to pass it to others. I also put a link to the survey on Twitter.

Link to Survey: Metacognition in the Classroom (Survey closed to new responses on November 15, 2014.)

Summary of Results

As of October 5, 6 participants completed the needs assessment survey. Most of the respondents were elementary school teachers and demonstrated a medium to medium-high awareness of metacognition and reported that they coached students to use metacognitive strategies. Though the participants indicated a fair amount of coaching metacognitive strategies, only 3 participants were "extremely familiar" with metacognition. Two said they were "somewhat familiar" and one indicated "slightly familiar." An open-ended question asked participants what challenges they experienced teaching metacognitive strategies. Two respondents pointed to the lack of motivation or difficulty getting students to use the strategies. Two respondents discussed the verbal nature of metacognition which is a barrier for some students who lack verbal skills or the ability to articulate their thinking process. Most respondents said they would be interested or probably interested in learning more about metacognition.


Analysis and Revised Intent

Although most participants indicated that they fairly frequently coached students on the three primary metacognitive skills of planning, monitoring, and evaluating, many of the techniques they discussed (e.g., planners and surveys) might not provide the deep reflection necessary for metacognition. Additionally, the challenges of student motivation and verbal emphasis were not originally included in my expected learning outcomes of the course. In addition to the previously stated goals, based on the survey, I plan to address student motivation, alternatives to verbal metacognition (if found in the literature), and methods of teaching metacognition that balance the three skills.

Learner Profile

I had hoped to recruit more higher education faculty for my survey, but wasn't able to secure any participants who teach at the college level. I suspect that this group of teachers has less awareness of metacognition, but was unable to demonstrate that through my survey or a literature review. However, I envision this learners for this mini-course to be teachers at any level. As the course develops, I may find this is too large an undertaking and may need to restrict the learners by grade level (elementary, high school, or post-secondary).

Performance Objectives

This course is designed to be an asynchronous professional development experiences for educators across school types and grade levels. After completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. describe the components of metacognition, given background reading and activities.
  2. discuss the value of teaching metacognition in the classroom, given background reading and activities.
  3. evaluate strategies for teaching metacognition, given a framework for assessment.
  4. generate methods to increase student motivation to use metacognition, given background reading and activities.
  5. develop strategies for incorporating metacognition in their classroom, given background reading and activities.

Degree for the learning objectives is not specified since the course is self-directed.

Assessment Strategies

Objective 1 - Quiz and Reflection Journal Objective 2 - Reflection Journal Objective 3 - Reflection Journal Objective 4 - Reflection Journal and Application Exercise Objective 5 - Reflection Journal and Application Exercise

Students will need to self-assess their progress from these activities.

Task Analysis

Unit 1: The purpose of this unit is to introduce students to the concept of metacognition, including the three components and the relationship to self-regulated learning.

At the end of this unit, given a multi-part model of metacognition, learners will be able to:

  • describe the concept of metacognition
  • outline the components of metacognition
  • compare and contrast metacognition and self-directed learning


  • Students will read a summary of metacognition.
  • Students will write a reflection on the material from Module 1. (Prompt: What are ways that you have used metacognition in your professional life?)
  • Students will take a post-test.

Unit 2: The purpose of this unit is to provide a rationale for using metacognition in the classroom by outlining its impact on student achievement.

At the close of this unit, given a summary of research on the impact of metacognition on student achievement, learners will be able to:

  • explain how metacognitive skills can benefit students
  • summarize research on metacognition and student outcomes
  • examine areas of future research in metacognition


  • Students will list ways that metacognition benefits students in their classrooms.
  • Students will read a summary of research findings on the impact of metacognition on student achievement.
  • Students will write a reflection on the material from Module 2.
  • Students will take a post-test.

Unit 3: The purpose of this unit is to describe strategies for integrating metacognition in the classroom and to determine ways to evaluate those strategies.

Given examples of ways teachers have integrated metacognition in their classes, at the close of this unit, learners will be able to:

  • compare and contrast effective strategies for integrating metacognition
  • develop a set of guidelines for evaluating strategies of integrating metacognition
  • evaluate the use of metacognition in the classroom


  • Students will read summary briefs on classrooms that have effectively integrated metacognition. (I will look for a range of examples across grade levels and disciplines.)
  • Students will list the characteristics of successful examples.
  • Students will read a summary of material.
  • Students will develop a checklist for evaluating their own and others' use of metacognitive strategies.

Unit 4: The purpose of this unit is to suggest strategies for increasing student motivation to use metacognition in academic activities.

At the close of this unit, given research on student motivation, learners will be able to:

  • discuss barriers that deter students' use of metacognitive strategies
  • outline features of a classroom culture that promotes metacognition


  • Students will identify barriers that impede student motivation for using metacognitive strategies.
  • Students will identify necessary resources for teaching metacognition.
  • Students will write a reflection on material from Module 4.

Unit 5: The purpose of this unit is to apply strategies discussed in previous units to the class(es) taught by the learner.

Given the material from previous units, at the close of Unit 5 learners will be able to:

  • organize concepts related to student use of metacognition
  • develop a strategy for teaching metacognitive skills in their own classes


  • Students will develop a lesson plan for the class they are currently teaching (or have taught in the past) that explicitly uses metacognition.
  • Students will evaluate their lesson plan with the checklist developed in Module 3.


Prerequisites for this course include:

  • the ability to use and access to a computer
  • the ability to navigate online
  • the ability to read and write in English
  • experience in or familiarity with teaching

Curriculum Map

File:ADE Curriculum Map.pdf

Mini-Course Units

ADE CourseTitle.jpg


Unit 1: What is Metacognition

Unit 2: Metacognition and Student Outcomes

Unit 3: Best Practices in Integrating Metacognition

Unit 4: How to Motivate Students to Use Metacognition

Unit 5: Using Metacognition in Your Course

Design Rationale

The expected students in this mini-course are educators completing the course independently and asynchronously. I included information for both K-12 educators and post-secondary instructors. Because of the self-directed nature of the course, I included brief, practical units with a number of self-assessment components. Each unit begins with a warm-up activity, includes one or two lessons, and concludes with a prompt for an entry in a reflection journal. All of these activities represent strategies for using metacognition in the classroom so that once the learner in the mini-course completes the activity, she will be able to adapt it for her class.

References and Resources

Fogarty, R. (1994). How to teach for metacognitive reflection. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin: A Sage Company.

Johnson, C. (2002). Drama and Metacognition. Early Child Development & Care, 172(6), 595-602.

Joseph, N. (2010). Metacognition needed: Teaching middle and high school students to develop strategic learning skills. Preventing School Failure, 54(2), 99-103.

Schleifer, L. L. F., & Dull, R. B. (2009). Metacognition and performance in the accounting classroom. Issues in Accounting Education, 24(3), 339-367.

Warner-Dobrowski, C., & Belisle, T. (2012). Metacognition: Myths and Misconceptions. International Educator, 26(4), 16-16.

Yeşilyurt, E. (2013). An analysis of teacher candidates usage level of metacognitive learning strategies: Sample of a university in Turkey. Educational Research and Reviews, 8(6), 218-225.

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