Teaching Metacogniton to Enhance Student Outcomes


Course Development Portfolio | Introduction | Unit 1 | Unit 2 | Unit 3 | Unit 4 | Unit 5

Author: Aimee Dars Ellis

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Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles from freedigitalphotos.net

Most educators know that metacognition is "thinking about thinking." While that is true at a basic level, metacognition is a complex, multi-layered concept. Additionally, it can be difficult to teach metacognitive skills to students. This asynchronous, standalone mini-course will help you hone your comprehension of metacognition, determine how to integrate metacognition into the class(es) you teach, and develop strategies for motivating students to engage in metacognition.

Learning Outcomes

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.


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

Materials Needed

To complete this course, you will need access to the internet. I recommend keeping paper or a tablet nearby to take notes and engage in reflection on the material. I will refer to this throughout the mini-course as your Reflective Journal.



Before moving to Unit 1, please use your reflective journal to complete the following activities:

Strategic Planning Roadmap

Review the course roadmap below and consider the amount of time you have to complete the mini-course lessons and activities. Create a timeline with benchmarks to help you organize and manage your time.


Know-What-Learn exercise


You can use these activities to promote metacogition in your classroom.

Please share your thoughts with other learners by adding them to the course via the Discussion tab at the top of the page.

Looking Forward

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The five units of this course will help you address any goals or questions you have identified as well as strengthen your ability to use metacognitive tools in your classes. The topics of each unit are described below.

Unit 1: What is Metacognition?

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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.

  • Students will read a summary of metacognition.
  • Students will write a reflection on the material.
  • Students will take a post-test.

Go to Unit 1

Unit 2: How does metacognition impact student outcomes?

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

  • 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.

Go to Unit 2

Unit 3: How have others integrated metacognition in their classes?

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

  • 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.

Go to Unit 3

Unit 4: What will make my students motivated to use metacognition?

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

  • Students will identify barriers that impede student motivation for using metacognitive strategies. (Look for barriers at individual / teacher / school levels.)
  • Students will identify necessary resources for teaching metacognition.
  • Students will write a reflection on material from Module 4.

Go to Unit 4

Unit 5: How can I integrate metacognition into the classes I teach?

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

  • 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.

Go to Unit 5

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.

Kolencik, P. L., & Hillwig, S. A. (2011). Encouraging metacognition: Supporting learners through metacognitive teaching strategies. New York: P. Lang.

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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