Queen Rania Foundation

Metacognition and Self-Regulation

The Queen Rania Foundation (QRF) dedicates itself to the development, distribution, and adaptation of research-based pedagogies in Jordan and the region to advance teaching and learning, especially literacy. To this end, QRF has partnered with the UK-based Education Endowment Fund (EEF) in the translation and adaptation of a series of educational tools known as the Teaching and Learning Toolkit (TLT), involving reviews of educational research and findings about what educational practices work best in light of the evidence.

The original adapted TLT, which QRF published in 2021, received a significant update in 2023— Some similar tools were merged to enhance interconnectedness (e.g., “Homework”), while others were allocated a separate platform (See EEF’s new evidence-based early years support). To support the application of these tools in actual practice, QRF has developed the Parental Engagement guide (2020) in response to virtual learning needs during COVID-19. Currently, QRF is developing two other new guides for Feedback and Reading Comprehension Strategies, two high-impact, low-cost tools of great significance in the teaching and learning processes.

Today, QRF is planning to work on a similar guide for a third high-impact, low-cost tool: Metacognition and Self-Regulation, which we hope to complete in 2024-2025. Similar to Feedback and Reading Comprehension Strategies, students who are taught metacognitive strategies and self-regulation strategies, on average, gain an additional seven months per year in comparison to the students who are not.

Metacognition, an admittedly nebulous concept, may be understood through first understanding cognition— the mental processes underlying learning and knowledge development. This may involve memorization, the different paths to solving a quadratic equation, the use of different media to accomplish different finishes in an art class, etc. Metacognition is how learners understand and regulate their own cognition. Students with metacognitive awareness might ask themselves: When is memorization useful? When else might I solve a math problem this way? And what medium is best for this artistic choice? Thus, Metacognition might more simply be understood as the knowledge gained about one’s self, as well as about the task at hand, and the strategies needed for successful completion of the task. Both cognition and metacognition, alongside the willingness to engage and use these skills (i.e., motivation), are components of self-regulated learning, of which teachers need to be aware to help their students become successful learners.

Rather than teaching metacognition and self-regulation as a general subject involving skills that are separated from subject knowledge, teachers should  incorporate metacognition and metacognitive strategies into specific subjects, lessons, and tasks to ensure and enhance the effectiveness of these strategies. Teachers may accomplish this goal in a variety of means such as explicit teaching of metacognitive strategies, modeling, explaining their own thought processes, and prompting metacognitive talk in the classroom.

To better illuminate the understanding and successful implementation of metacognition and self-regulated learning, EEF offers seven recommendations (See EEF’s Metacognition and Self-regulated learning guidance report). Teachers should:

  1. acquire the relevant professional understanding and skills to help develop their students' metacognitive knowledge. 
  2. explicitly teach their students metacognitive and self-regulation strategies so that they can better understand and regulate their learning. 
  3. model their own thought processes for students to help them develop their cognitive and metacognitive skills. 

    a. For example, the teacher might talk through their thinking about a math problem while working on the problem with the class.

  4. appropriately challenge students: not too hard in order not to overwhelm students, and not too easy. 
  5. enhance  and develop metacognitive talk in the classroom. 
  6. teach students how to effectively manage their own learning—first with guided practice with the support of the teacher and then independently.

Schools should support teachers in the learning and teaching of metacognitive strategies (through training and provision of resources) such that m

Successful implementation and school support will also enhance the learning of disadvantaged students—an important goal at the heart of the endeavors toward equal education. When metacognitive strategies are expressly taught, students are more likely to use them, habitually and effectively, to direct their own learning and manage challenges when they arise. Metacognition’s value lies in how it promotes autonomous learning and empowers learners as they navigate educational experiences at any level of study.

Through Parental Engagement, Feedback, Reading Comprehension Strategies, and Metacognition and Self-Regulation guides and their additional aids, QRF continues to provide research-based resources that will help teachers, parents, school administrators, and policy makers make more informed decisions to enhance teaching and learning and help develop successful, empowered learners in Jordan and the region.