The impact of DIRT upon metacognition

Elen Harris has been looking at the impact of DIRT on Metacognition.

This research attempts to ascertain if feedback strategies such as Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) create a quantifiable improvement in students’ metacognitive abilities.

Training students in metacognition (in its simplest form, ‘thinking about thinking’) can raise their performance and increase progress by an additional 7 months (EEF, 2018), whilst getting students to respond to appropriate feedback strategies can provide students with eight additional months’ worth of progress per year; this is noted to be one of the most ‘effective and cost effective’ ways of ‘enhancing pupil learning’ (Elliott et al., 2016).  

At the beginning of the Michaelmas term, all year 8 students undertook a ‘Learning and Study Strategies Inventory’ (LASSI) questionnaire (H & H Publishing, 2018) to test their study skills and act as a baseline. ERH’s 8X class has since been used as an intervention set, with all other year 8 geography classes being used as controls with a ‘business as usual’ approach to feedback and reflection.

The intervention class has been provided with feedback on a standardised template, designed after reviewing guidance in existing literature. Key features include: the inclusion of a marking criteria grid, space for teacher comment, space for student feedforward target, and for students to improve an aspect of their work. Importantly, there is no space for a grade and grades are not provided on work. The template works by the teacher highlighting the relevant marking criteria met by the student and adding coded feedback to their work, with a comment. Students then reflect accordingly.

At the end of the academic year, all of year 8 will repeat the LASSI test and statistical analysis will reveal whether these strategies have had an impact on their metacognition, and therefore their progress. We will then consider whether DIRT is a worthwhile and more cohesive feedback mechanism to recommend as a wider school feedback approach.


Education Endowment Foundation (2018) Metacognition and self-regulation (Accessed 29.11.2018)

Elliott, V., et al (2016) A marked improvement? A review of the evidence on written marking. Education Endowment Foundation (Accessed 29.11.18).

H & H Publishing (2018) LASSI Learning and Study Skills Inventory, 3rd Edition (Accessed 29.11.2018).

Quigley, A. et al., Metacognition and self regulated learning guidance report. Education Endowment Foundation. (Accessed 29.11.18).

Speight, A. (2016) The power of DIRT time. Innovate my School (Accessed 29.11.2018)

Weinstein, al. (2018) LASSI Third Edition User’s Manual. H&H Publishing (Accessed 18.10.2018).