Research School Network: Metacognition: What to Reveal when Modelling We share a simple approach to help with making the implicit explicit when we model

Metacognition: What to Reveal when Modelling

We share a simple approach to help with making the implicit explicit when we model

by Bradford Research School
on the

Recommendation 3 of the EEF’s Metacognition and Self-regulated Learning guidance report is to Model your own thinking to help pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills.’

According to the report, effective teachers are aware of their expertise and of how to reveal their skills to learners’, but…

...modelling of this type is rarely planned by teachers as these processes or skills come ‘naturally’ to them, but that risks these important prompts remaining implicit, which is particularly ineffective for novice pupils. To move from novice to expert, our pupils need to know how an expert athlete, artist, historian, or scientist habitually thinks and acts. We need to make these largely implicit processes explicit to our novice learners.

What should we reveal?

As well as the elements of the task that we want to model e.g. what a piece of descriptive writing looks like, we also need to reveal the thinking processes involved. We need to make explicit the processes of planning, monitoring and evaluating our learning.

Planning – thinking before the task what the best approaches will be and what might help us to be successful.

Monitoring – assessing our own progress and adapting accordingly.

Evaluating – looking back at how we did and how successful our strategies were. Making changes as a result.

And we can also think about the fact that we approach any learning task or opportunity with particular knowledge:

Knowledge of self
– what we know about ourselves, how we feel about a task, our experiences of being successful.
Knowledge of strategies
– being able to choose the right tools for the job.
Knowledge of the task
– what we know that will help us in this particular task, rather than any generic strategies.

You can see a more detailed explanation on the three types of knowledge in our blog here.

Thinking with these in mind can help us to make sure that we do reveal the right things and make the implicit explicit. We can think about what the expert will be thinking, or we can think about what the successful pupil will be thinking. It’s often worth sketching out what these might look like. One way is plotting out in a grid like this:


In doing this, we are forced to think about those aspects of thinking that are not often brought to the fore. Then when we come to model, we have a clearer idea of what we might talk through and reveal. Here is an example for a teacher who is going to model answering an exam question. They want to think about the kind of metacognitive behaviours the successful learner would show:


And this one is modelling to pupils how we might learn quotations:


I’m not saying we sit there ticking things off the grid when we model, but it can help prompt your thinking before modelling. Whether you use a grid or not, it’s worth taking the time to consider the implicit processes that are not made explicit when modelling.

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