Masters Project on Metacognition

Hayley Andrews tells us about the way metacognition has informed parts of her Masters degree:

'My Master’s degree in Education with Brighton University concludes next October in a 15,000-word dissertation based on a research project. At the moment, I am writing my research proposal looking at Metacognition.

Metacognition loosely means ‘self-regulation’ – the process used to “plan, monitor and assess one’s understanding and performance”.  In 2008, Hattie reviewed over 900 studies of educational interventions to find out what actually works in schools; promotion of metacognition ranked very highly indeed. Although there has been an increase in interest in metacognition in educational research since 2008, consistent and considered practices based on this research has yet to hit the classroom. I’m interested in how a student’s motivation is tied up with their awareness of their own learning and how much more motivated they can be if they see the point and purpose of what is going on at school. The literature on students’ metacognitive awareness and motivation indicates to a positive correlation, which is not that surprising.

I am focussing on how students take in and develop their learning and how this learning changes their behaviour, which is linked to their motivation. I’m a biologist – I specialised in ethology, which is the study of animal behaviour. As you might expect, it’s not difficult to use techniques that might be used to study, say, chimpanzee behaviour and apply them to analyse how students are behaving in the classroom.

So how is metacognition best promoted? As a scientist, I’m usually wary of qualitative research and am keen to develop a more quantitative approach. I am driven to identify improvements to the process of teaching and learning and feel any focus on pedagogy that inspires a creative approach to education is surely worth doing. Part of this study will involve surveying teaching professionals about current practise; in this way I will work to compile and promote a set of helpful and inspirational techniques to try'.

Hattie J (2008) – Visible Learning for teachers. Routledge