Teacher tip: Use metacognitive strategies to empower your students

Metacognitive strategies can greatly enhance learning for all students in all subject areas.

Teachers can implement metacognitive strategies to assist students to become self-regulating learners and to develop a strong sense of agency in their learning.

Metacognitive strategies empower students to think about their own thinking. This awareness of the learning process enhances their control over their own learning. It also enhances personal capacity for self-regulation and managing one's own motivation for learning.

Metacognitive activities can include planning how to approach learning tasks, identifying appropriate strategies to complete a task, evaluating progress, and monitoring comprehension.

Boost your students' metacognitive skills by increasing their agency

Students who have the opportunity to exercise voice, agency and leadership in designing, developing and assessing their own learning have a greater chance of becoming resilient and independent learners.

Teachers co-design learning opportunities for students to exercise authentic agency in their own learning when they:

  • assist students to take ownership of their learning by identifying strategies that support them to attain learning goals
  • assist students to become increasingly self-directed over time, and to gain confidence in their ability to complete learning tasks
  • provide opportunities to reflect on the effectiveness of their learning and plan for future development
  • enable students to negotiate assessment methods and criteria matched to their learning goals.

Approaches to integrate metacognitive strategies into everyday teaching

As part of everyday teaching, some of the most common strategies used to embed metacognitive strategies are:

Explicit teaching

With a focus on activating prior knowledge, introducing new knowledge and skills, modelling the application of knowledge and skills, and providing ample opportunity for independent practice and reflection.

Supporting students to plan, monitor, and evaluate their work/learning

Explicitly teaching skills in these areas, and structuring work around these phases, will give students the opportunity to gradually internalise these techniques and use them to take control of their own learning.

Developing rubrics (and wherever possible co-designing them with students)

Assist students with the monitoring of learning and the setting of individual learning goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART).

Modelling of thinking

Verbalise the thought processes used to consider, analyse and solve problems. This may be as simple as 'thinking aloud'.


Both in terms of using questions to engage students, to monitor their progress and stimulate their thinking, as well as valuing questions from students as a form of feedback and an opportunity for clarification/extension of learning.

Reflect on your practice

Use the following considerations to critically reflect on your practice:

  • how can you explicitly teach several metacognitive strategies, model their use, and embed them in routines and the lesson structure?
  • how might you encourage students to reflect critically on the strategies they use to complete tasks, and to identify which learning strategies are most effective for them?
  • how can you support students to identify their own learning goals, plan and monitor their own learning, and evaluate their learning?
  • how can your Professional Learning Communities support building knowledge and skills in using metacognitive strategies?

Practical resources you can use in your classroom

Explore Professional Practice Note #14: Using Metacognitive Strategies to Support Student Self-Regulation and Empowerment.

Other relevant tools and resources that can help you include:

For more information, or to share your feedback, email: professional.practice@edumail.vic.gov.au.