Growing Metacognition in Our Learners

This toolkit provides key practices for students to develop their executive functions through increased awareness, focused attention, and active processing of curriculum material. Often students are relegated to passive mode when they need to have a dynamic learning experience that expects strategic thinking. We provide research based strategies for students to strengthen their metacognitive muscle as they monitor their progress and plan their next steps.





Want learners to become more aware and more in control of directing their thinking? This toolkit focuses on three critical processes: improving listening skills, strategies for problem-solving, and prompting questions to reflect on learning. It includes:

Tool 1: The Three “Ps” of Listening Respectfully

The three “Ps” (pausing, paraphrasing, posing) listening process provides a protocol for speakers to clarify their thinking and listeners to better understand another’s perspective. This tool focuses on elevating the learner’s voice by giving full attention.

Tool 2: Metacognitive Ladder

The “metacognitive ladder” helps learners become strategic and aware of what’s going on inside their heads as they plan, monitor, and reflect on their thinking. As learners become more fluent with the steps in the ladder, it becomes a powerful set of questions they can ask themselves to describe their progress on a given challenge.

Tool 3: Think Aloud Problem Solving

When learners are given a challenging problem, some are better able to solve problems when they talk aloud about their thinking. A coach can guide with prompting questions. This practice helps to engage and sustain metacognition in learners both in a remote learning setting (e.g., video call, family member-learner conversation) or in the classroom.