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Andy Griffith on developing meta-cognition |Session review: 8th July 2021

Along with Professor John Hattie, Teacher Training UK were delighted to have the opportunity to host Andy Griffith, author of The Learning Imperative, Teaching Backwards and Engaging Learners.

During the session, Andy discussed self-regulation and metacognition, and how these concepts link to independent learning.

Metacognition involves the conscious planning, monitoring and evaluating of one’s own learning. This encompasses developing a greater awareness of our own actions and the effect they have. Self-regulation refers to the metacognitive skilfulness of an individual and involves the management of motivation, resilience and perseverance.

The benefits of developing metacognitive and self-regulatory skills include a substantially greater impact on pupil learning because learner engagement is improved. Additional benefits include the reduction of attainment gaps and improved learner ability to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of subjects.

Andy then talked about the 7 strategies which allow teachers to develop metacognitive and self-regulatory skills in learners:

1. Forced reflexivity

Forcing reflexivity encourages learners to look at past events in order to identify opportunities for development and progression. Examples of strategies that force reflexivity include journalling and reviewing past examples of work to identify the developments that have been made.

2. Teach motivation

Teaching motivation requires an understanding of the principles of motivation and helps to develop independence in learners. Strategies which encourage motivation include providing opportunities for learners to step outside of their comfort zone.

3. Teach time management

Teaching time management is essential when providing learners with the skills needed to manage workloads independently. When working with older pupils, strategies can be taught to help them manage workloads unassisted, for example, through demonstrating the use of Kanban time management systems or block scheduling.

4. “I, we, you”

“I, we, you” refers to the gradual reduction of adult instruction where learner independence increases. It begins with an adult presenting and deconstructing a model to the class. Learners then apply the success criteria as a group or class in order to demonstrate competency. They then engage in independent practice.

5. Cognitive overload

Cognitive overload refers to the inability of learners to absorb new information due to processing systems in the brain becoming overwhelmed. Strategies to overcome cognitive overload include incorporating opportunities for metacognition and self-regulation, allowing learners the opportunity to edit and rewrite work, and implementing visual organisers.

6. Moving from concrete to abstract

This process describes the ability of the learner to move from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. Strategies to encourage this include providing real-world examples for abstract concepts and building on cultural capital in order to engage learners in experiencing concepts first-hand.

7. Build a sense of audience

This means allowing opportunities for learners to present work, act as the teacher, and engage in discussions which require formal articulation to an audience. Building an audience for learners ensures they are given opportunities to practice skills necessary for life outside of the educational environment.


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