Monitoring: The forgotten step of meta-cognition

9 November 2018

Author: Kate Mouncey



Since the publication of the EEF Metacognition Guidance Report, we have presented several training events and have written about key aspects of the report and our interpretation of these in this blog. The information here is focused on one very specific aspect of the metacognition cycle. As I have tried various strategies out with my classes and worked through my understanding of this very wide topic, the monitoring stage has been a bit of a revelation for me and my students.

Like most teachers, the planning and evaluating stages of the metacognition cycle are more explicit in my own mind, and I do share these aspects with students. I try to share my objectives and plans for our work and we often evaluate understanding of the learning and techniques used. The report and evidence has encouraged me to be more explicit with students about the thinking processes behind planning and evaluating.

However, it was the monitoring stage that was missing a lot of the time. I had never really thought through explicit strategies to use monitoring within a task with real depth. I may check understanding and chat to students as they undertake a task, but it was a bit hit and miss. The explicit use of this idea was a revelation to me as I developed questions to cover a specific task with my Year 13 geography A level class. Using the questions on page 13 of the report as a stimulus, I put together my own questions for the class to undertake the specific planning, monitoring and evaluating stages of planning for a 12 mark ‘Assess’ exam question. All stages were very useful and enabled students to explicitly see the thinking processes required. However, it was the monitoring stage which was really new for us, and which seemed to have the most impact. The exam answer had a 20 minute completion time. Having undertaken the planning, I set the students off on the task, but stopped them 5 minutes in. They checked the monitoring questions to see if they were on track with all of the success criteria and then we continued for another 5 minutes. This was repeated until the end.

In talking to the students after the task, they said that the pauses and monitoring really made a difference and they were surprised by how many things they were forgetting, or by their difficulty to think clearly as they got stuck into answering the question.

From this, I developed further monitoring check sheets to use with A level classes. These are generated from the generic mark scheme and can therefore be used multiple times for the same type of questions. I have attached the monitoring sheet for 12 mark ‘Assess’ questions here: Monitoring during an assess qu

Year 12 classes just starting out with exam technique have been very clear that this sheet has helped them in our first timed questions. I will then have to make a decision about when I take this sheet away, to scaffold the support and ensure that the thinking becomes independent and innate at an appropriate point.

My colleague, Karen Roskilly, has also used ideas for monitoring in her sociology lessons, an example can be seen here. Plan Monitor Evaluate cycle

Monitoring is a fairly simple idea which requires little preparation, but this step seems to be having a real impact on student’s understanding of their own thought processes during tasks and assessments. I am looking forward to developing this further in coming months.

Posted on 9 November 2018
Posted in: Blog

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