What Are Metacognitive Strategies, and How They Can Be Used to Help Students?


Quick Answer

Metacognitive strategies are methods for helping students think about how they learn and think, an essential part of the self-directed learning process. These strategies are useful for students to bring general awareness of how information is acquired. Metacognitive strategies help in planning and organizing, monitoring progress, self-reflection and directing learning.

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Full Answer

Help students plan for learning by having them think about "what do I already know about this topic," "where have I seen this before," "I wonder why...," "are there any keywords I may need to learn to grasp the concepts" and "what do I hope to learn right now." To make subjects more manageable, have them skim the readings to see what topics are being covered and divide larger ideas into smaller parts.

Have students pause during reading tasks to ask themselves what they've been learning, where they expect the author is going with the concept and why they might expect that. Have them notice the structure of learning materials and graphics and note why the information may be set up that way. Ask if their expectations matched up after some of the material has been gone through, and why or why not. This helps students to better appreciate and understand their own thinking and learning process.

After the students finish with the material, have them note how well they read and understood, which learning strategies seemed to work for them and which did not, and potential new strategies for next time.

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