Research School Network: Promoting Metacognition Through Student Self-Assessment There is a shifting government focus towards student self-directed learning and metacognition.


Promoting Metacognition Through Student Self-Assessment

There is a shifting government focus towards student self-directed learning and metacognition.

by Billesley Research School
on the

Whilst completing my Teacher Training qualification, I had a fantastic opportunity to discover the importance of promoting metacognition within education, specifically focusing on student self-assessment.

There is a shifting government focus towards student self-directed learning and metacognition. The Teacher’s Core Content Framework Standard 4, Plan and Teach Well Structured Lessons’, directly references explicitly teaching pupils metacognitive strategies linked to subject knowledge, including planning, monitoring and evaluating, supporting independence and academic success.

Student self-assessment has been consistently shown to have a statistically positive impact on student learning. The benefits of metacognition are supported by research on the processes identified to support learning, such as practice, revision, feedback and reflection. Research has demonstrated how self-assessment can promote student knowledge and skill development by increasing awareness of learning processes.

This increased awareness of learning processes supports students in undertaking self-directed learning. Self-directed learning is when students can learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning and develop their metacognitive skills, for example, through student self-assessment of their learning and understanding. If a student has the opportunity to look at their learning and assess what strategies they used to support their understanding, e.g., specific calculation strategies in maths, or frames of analysis within humanities subjects, they can continue to use these strategies to support their learning in the future lessons.

In Maths, if there are multiple ways to calculate the answer to a question, giving students the ability to assess the most efficient method will support the speed at which they can answer questions. This is an essential aspect of SAT assessment in Year 2 and Year 6. Allowing this reflection supports learning, as when students are given opportunities to develop meta-cognitive skills. This helps students to gain supportive intellectual habits, improving their performance and effectiveness in learning throughout their education.

The Education Endowment Foundation provides various resources on promoting metacognition within the classroom, including 7 Key Recommendations for metacognition and self-regulated learning. The recommendations include beginning with activating prior knowledge, leading to independent practice, before ending in structured reflection — this can be applied to different subjects, ages, and contents.

In practice, teachers may already find themselves conducting multiple examples of student self-assessment in the classroom. This may include ticking a checklist of the lesson’s success criteria or giving a thumbs up/​middle/​down depending on how they understood/​engaged with the lesson’s content. However, this will only support students if work is then done to support closing any gaps students may self-identify in their own learning; this could be done by adjusting future lesson plans, pre/​post tutoring or intervention groups. The self-assessment method also needs to be repeatedly modelled by the class teacher to ensure students understand how to assess their understanding, as this is not an innate skill. With time, this will help students gain the skills and confidence to assess their own learning.

Ultimately, metacognition should not be seen as an extra’ task for teachers to do but should be built into lessons and activities, supporting learning practices and promoting student self-regulated learning. The best way this can be promoted is through school-wide approaches to meta-cognitive strategies and supportive CPD to help teachers develop their pedagogical toolkit. This will support both formative assessments conducted by teachers and students’ self-regulated and self-directed learning.

Emily Atkinson is an ECT (Early Career Teacher) at Billesley Primary School


Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M.K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Quigley, A., Mujis, D., Stringer, E. (2021) METACOGNITION AND SELF-REGULATED LEARNING: Summary of recommendations. London, Education Endowment Foundation

Department of Education (2019) ITT Core Content Framework. Crown Copywrite.

Andrade, H., L. (2019) A Critical review of Research of Student Self-Assessment. Educational

Psychology and Methodology, University at Albany, Albany, NY, United States. 87 (4)

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