Supporting Learners’ Metacognitive Awareness

Key Takeaway

Metacognitive awareness (MA) is a significant predictor of academic achievement, enabling learners to take charge of their own learning by increasing their self-reliance, flexibility, and productivity. Teachers’ ability to create learning environments that support the development of MA is crucial to successful, life-long academic and social-emotional learning. —Ashley Parnell

Three Core Components of Metacognitive Awareness

Metacognitive Awareness (MA) means being aware of how you think and learn, and involves the ability to reflect on, monitor, and evaluate your learning and learning strategies. This study sought to examine teachers’ perceived support for learners’ metacognitive awareness in relation to three core components of MA

  • Knowledge of learning objects—to foster declarative (knowing what) & conditional (knowing why) metacognitive knowledge, teachers stimulate student understanding of what they know, what they need to know, and why they need to know and then support students in goal-setting. 
  • Regulation of learning strategies—to cultivate the planning, monitoring, and debugging of learning strategies, teachers guide students in identifying their own learning strategies, utilizing problem-solving strategies to monitor and modify those strategies as needed.
  • Self-evaluation—to guide self-evaluation of knowledge and regulation, teachers use questioning strategies to support the learning in evaluating their learning progress and associated learning strategies.

Differences in Perceived Support by Discipline

Specifically, the researchers explored the differences in perceived support of MA across teacher groups, including subject teachers in both vocational education and training (VET) (those who teach skills needed in working life) and general education (GE) (those who teach all-round education), in addition to special education teachers.

Participants included 1,045 secondary vocational education and training (VET) subject teachers, GE subject teachers, and special teachers in Finland. Using the Inventory of Teacher’s Metacognition Support (ITEMS), teachers rated their practice of instructional strategies and scaffolds that effectively support the development of the three-component model of MA. 

Results revealed the following differences or lack thereof:

  • Special education teachers support learners’ MA more than VET and GE subject teachers across all components except self-evaluation of knowledge of learning—an area which was better supported by VET teachers than special education teachers. 
  • Perceived support varied between groups of subject areas in GE (i.e. math, physics, & chemistry vs. biology & geography) and components of MA.
  • Women systematically supported learners’ MA more than men.
  • Experienced teachers provided slightly more support for students’ MA than less experienced teachers, particularly teachers holding a Master’s degree.

These findings, considered alongside the critical role of teachers in effectively teaching and supporting the development of MA through instructional practices, confirm the importance of: 

  • developing MA support capabilities during pre-service and in-service teacher education;
  • increasing collaboration between junior and senior teachers; 
  • recognition of the value and impact of metacognitive awareness and understanding across all levels of education.

Summarized Article:

Kallio, H., Kallio, M., Virta, K., Iiskala, T., & Hotulainen, R. (2020). Teachers' Support for Learners' Metacognitive Awareness. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/00313831.2020.1755358

Summary by:  Ashley M. Parnell — Ashley strives to apply the MARIO Framework to build evidence-based learning environments that support student engagement, empowerment and passion, and is working with a team of educators to grow and share this framework with other educators.

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Join the MARIO Family

We are a dedicated group of learners that are constantly seeking to improve the lives of the children we care for. Whether you are a teacher, parent, assistant, or administrator, we give you free access to the most recent special education related research and practices available. Our twice monthly MARIO Memo summarizes and shares studies from peer-reviewed journals, while our learning letters provide insights from MARIO classrooms.

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