Students learn best when they know how to approach learning in a way that works for them. It is important to encourage students to think about how they learn best and what works for them.

Metacognition: one’s ability to use prior knowledge to plan a strategy for approaching a new learning task, to take necessary steps to problem solve, to reflect on and evaluate results and modify one’s approach as needed. It helps learners choose the right cognitive tool for the task and plays a critical role in successful learning.

Researchers distinguish between metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation (Flavell, 1979, 1987; Schraw & Dennison, 1994). Metacognitive knowledge refers to what individuals know about themselves as cognitive processors, about different approaches that can be used for learning and problem solving, and about the demands of a particular learning task.

Metacognitive regulation refers to adjustments individuals make to their processes to help control their learning, such as planning, information management strategies, comprehension monitoring, de-bugging strategies, and evaluation of progress and goals.

Individuals who demonstrate a wide variety of metacognitive skills complete work more efficiently—they use the right tool for the job, and they modify learning strategies as needed, identifying blocks to learning and changing tools or strategies to ensure goal attainment.

Adapted from:

Metacognition: a Factsheet at:

© Matthew Tizzard

A simple question frame for learning might be:

  • What do I need to do?
  • What is my best strategy here?


  • Did it work well?
  • Where else can I use it?
  • Does it need modifying?
  • If so, how?

How could you support students in developing habits of noting where they have worked effectively and how they can use those particular skills in other situations? Besides examining their reading strategies, this may include noting times of day when they are operating efficiently, whether mind maps help them or, say, they are better using Post-it notes and working physically to create a coherent plan.