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  • Writer's pictureMichael Chan

Study Skills: Metacognition & Study

Metacognition is a learning concept that encourages individuals to reflect on their learning strategies, set clear goals, and actively monitor their progress to achieve effective and efficient learning outcomes. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is one organization that promotes metacognitive concepts as a means to empowering learning.

Infographic: John Spencer explains metacognition's critical role in the classroom.

Metacognition: what is it?

A simple way to understand Metacognition is as self-aware learning. In academics and exams, students who demonstrate self-awareness are known to do better. Once a student becomes self-aware, they can self-evaluate to identify knowledge gaps. This will help them use tuition time effectively, eventually helping enhance their study skills and allowing learning to become proactive instead of spoon-fed.

Ultralearning, a concept popularized by author Scott Young in his published self-help book of the same name, emphasizes the importance of metacognition in the learning process. Read more about Ultralearning on our blog.

At Bridge Elite, self-awareness and metacognitive strategies are incorporated so that students may gain an edge over their studies. Here are some strategies:

  1. The Tutor as a learning coach

A tutor has the unique advantage of functioning as a learning coach on top of the traditional teaching role. Students normally feel less intimidated, and find their tutors more relatable, more closely resembling a respected peer, and are able to share their opinions, feelings and learning difficulties. Similarly, the tutor can relate by sharing their recent experiences in school and how they themselves solved these challenges effectively, building an personal relationship that make students more open-minded to take charge of their own learning (subconscious metacognition). Benefits of using metacognitive teaching have been explored in academic mentoring in university. Since university-level learning involves more complexity than at secondary-level, novel approaches are always being tried in a bid to find more effective ways to learn. The same learning strategies can help secondary students learn better, and get an early start on study skills in the tertiary playing field.

Backer and colleagues (2011) investigated the impact of peer tutoring on university students’ metacognitive knowledge and regulation.

Students who engaged in peer tutoring showed improved metacognitive regulation skills, including self-evaluation and planning.

The role of an academic consultant or professional tutor functions to develop such study skills. Tutors encourage students to enhance and acquire awareness proactively, guiding them to learn better, and more importantly understand which skills to use in which context in a 1-1 setting.

To learn more on Academic mentors, read our Academic Consultant profiles.

2. Improving exam effectiveness with metacognition (awareness)

An important aspect of metacognition is the ability to identify and communicate knowledge gaps. In a mentor-mentee setting (tuition), the tutor is both a teacher and peer reviewer - not only does the tutor teach academic knowledge and skills, the tutor also help students develop self-awareness and metacognition, which is transferrable to other subjects.

Equally important is exam skill and exam technique. Exam strategies include:

  • Knowing exam prompts and executing the correct response style

  • Time management

  • Scoring strategies and scoring rubrics (when to answer, and how much time to allocate each question)

  • Complete factual recall and familiarity with answer formats

Metacognition is learning awareness, and awareness informs strategy. Learning strategy makes a huge difference, and when a student actively develops their own learning strategy with a tutor’s guidance (instead of being spoon fed), the impact on their learning is much greater than when a student is given a system to blindly follow. In our 1-1 classes, tutors encourage students to take the learning resources and adapt their learning strategies to fit their individual strengths and weaknesses.

To learn more on Academic mentors, read about our Academic Consultants or book a class.

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