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EEF release new guidance on how to improve pupils' ability to plan, monitor and evaluate academic progress

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The Metacognition and self-regulated learning guidance report reviews the best available research to offer teachers practical guidance on how to develop their pupils' metacognitive skills to enable them to plan, monitor and evaluate their own academic progress so they become better at learning and studying.

The evidence suggests the use of 'metacognitive strategies' – which get pupils to think about their own learning - can be worth the equivalent of an additional +7 months' progress when used well.

This guidance is applicable to both primary and secondary schools, and some recommendations may be relevant for early years education. It is aimed primarily at senior leaders and teachers responsible for staff development, although it may also be useful for class teachers with an interest in how research can improve their teaching.

The report has recommendations in seven areas and 'myth busts' common misconceptions teachers may have about metacognition.

Common misconceptions:               

  • A common misconception is that metacognition is only developed effectively in mature young adults and not young children – however, research shows that children as young as three have been able to engage in a wide range of metacognitive and self-regulatory behaviours, such as setting themselves goals and checking their understanding.
  • Metacognition represents 'higher order' thinking and is, therefore, more important than mere cognition or subject knowledge – actually we should look to develop both concurrently. 
  • You can easily teach metacognitive knowledge and strategies in discrete 'thinking skills' lessons - actually, metacognitive strategies should be taught in conjunction with specific subject content as pupils find it hard to transfer generic tips to specific tasks.


  1. Explicitly teach pupils metacognitive strategies, including how to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning
  2. Model your own thinking to help pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills
  3. Set an appropriate level of challenge to develop pupils' self-regulation and metacognition
  4. Promote and develop metacognitive talk in the classroom
  5. Explicitly teach pupils how to organise, and effectively manage, their learning independently
  6. Teachers should acquire the professional understanding and skills to develop their pupils' metacognitive knowledge
  7. Schools should support teachers to develop their knowledge of these approaches and expect them to be applied appropriately. 
First published 01 May 2018