Live Chat – Mindsets and metacognition #2 – Tuesday 8th May

ModSu: Good evening everyone – I hope you all had a very enjoyable, sunny, bank holiday weekend 🙂 We will start our live chat shortly – as you join the chat, do feel free to introduce yourself. I’m Su, and I’m currently studying for a PhD at UCL IoE, looking at global and local processing (looking at the whole or the details) and their relationships with science and maths in primary age children.

ehjcanford: Hi! I’m Ed Johnson and I teach Biology

isabel garcia barrera: Hello, I’m Isabel, a Science teacher.

nuno-nuno: Hi, I’m a psychologist.


ehjcanford: Regarding this evening’s chat I am most interested in the concept of teaching metacognition: Is this even possible, what are the best ways…?

David: Hi, Ed. Yes, teaching metacognition is eminently possible at all ages and there is a considerable body of research at secondary school level. The EEF has just brought out a set of guidance as to how to teach it.

ModSu: Here is a link you may find useful – There’s a pictorial summary of the document on Twitter, but I can’t quickly find a direct link. If you’re on Twitter, have a look at the EEF feed, as they have shared it there.

David: Thanks, Su, you beat me to it – I was just looking this up. I worked on the advisory panel that drew this up and you will find a very full bibliography of useful references.

ehjcanford: Hi, yes, I have read that. I haven’t had a chance to look up the references yet, but I certainly will.

ModSu: Did you find it useful?

ehjcanford: Yes I did!


ehjcanford:  Is there anything you can recommend to read or look at regarding teaching metacognition?

David: You might also be interested to read Charlotte Dignath’s review of interventions designed to teach metacognition at primary and secondary level. It’s now 10 years out of date but still covers the main points, I think. Here is the link:  

ehjcanford: Great, thanks David.

ModSu: I don’t know if this might be a useful read? 

ehjcanford: I like the blog: thanks!

ModSu: And I spotted this blog the other day from one of the research schools – 


ModSu: From a classroom perspective, what do you find most challenging when encouraging students to think about thinking?

ehjcanford: 1. that here is already a massive range so some students already do this very well and can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t right down to other students who are very poor at this. 2. the some students have very ingrained ideas already about how they think they learn best….and their own “ability” “attainment” “potential” or whatever you would like to call it.

David: Well, it is important to create the right atmosphere in the class. Often, by the time they reach secondary school, children have been socialised to expect that there is a ‘right’ answer and their job is to find it by following the instructions given to them by the teacher, who knows the answer. To foster metacognition, you have to engage children in more open ended enquiries and focus more on the processes and straegies they use rather than whether they get the right answer. This is especially true in maths and science, which tend to be taught in a very closed way.

ehjcanford: I think maybe I have been trying to be too explicit at times when discussing ideas abut metacognition rather than trying to integrate it more subtly.

David: Yes, this problem gets worse the further through the education system thay have gone. This is why I focus most of my own research on early childhood education, when it is easier to set children off on the right track. However, there are impressive interventions at secondary school level.


ModSu: David, do you know of any specific intervention examples at secondary level?

David: Secondary education is not my area, I’m afraid, so could not recommend any specific interventions. However, the EEF report is quite secondary orientated, so you will find a lot of useful guidance there. I understasnd that, on the advice of the advisory panel, EEF are planning to provide follow up training opportunities. You should all definitely sign up for these.

ehjcanford: How do you sign up?

David: You can contact EEF via their website: here is the link : 


ModSu: David, when you work with younger age groups, how do you foster metacognition – particularly in science and maths?

David: Thanks. I have written a huge amount on this – see my bibliography at: I would particularly recommend Whitebread, D. & Coltman, P. (2017). Developing young children as self-regulated learners. In J. Moyles, J. Georgeson & J. Payler (Eds) Beginning Teaching: Beginning Learning: In Early Years and Primary Education, 5th Ed. London: Open University Press/McGraw Hill. Whitebread, D. (Ed.) (2016). Self-regulation. Early Education Journal, 80 (Autumn) is also well worth a look for specific intervention with young children


ModSu: Out of interest, those who work in schools, is there much of a school-level focus on ‘growth mindsets’, and what does that mean in practice for teaching and learning?

ehjcanford: It is certainly very “on trend” at our school. We have talked about the concept at INSET, and there have been a couple of assemblies about it. Some teachers have embraced it, however in practical terms for actal teaching practise I’m not sure much has changed.

ModSu: Thanks – my husband’s school also an INSET presentation, and having been a primary school teacher, I was just curious about different schools’ approach / interest 🙂


ModSu: nuno-nuno, what sort of psychology are you involved with? Are you studying, researching, or something completely different?

nuno-nuno: Psychology of education – researching.

ModSu: Definitely an interesting subject!

David: Yes, and crucially important if we want children to develop so-called 21st century skills – problem-solving, creativity, team-working etc.


ModSu: Thank you all for joining in the live chat tonight. If there are any questions you would like to ask more generally to any of the scientists on the learning zone, you can use the ‘ask’ tab at any time. The next live chat will be next Thursday – hope you have a lovely week! Thanks.


Posted on May 9, 2018 by in Live Chat Transcript. Comments Off on Live Chat – Mindsets and metacognition #2 – Tuesday 8th May