To what extent do metacognitive methods enable students in Lower 6th to improve their study habit?
What is the effect on their mental health?
Context and Rationale:
According to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF, 2018) metacognition and self-regulation offers high impact intervention techniques for very low cost as shown by extensive evidence.
Metacognition is the process of monitoring and controlling our thought process. It is taking the time to think about what we do, why we do it and how to potentially get better at it.
As a form tutor for students in lower sixth I wanted to explore how useful these metacognitive techniques might be for them and how applicable they are to their context. This felt particularly relevant given the recent lockdown and remote learning as well as the increasing likelihood of future episodes of remote learning. Despite being in daily contact with the students virtually, the thinking was that they are likely to face a heavier burden in terms of being independent and looking after themselves while not coming into school.
As a Form Tutor I see the students in the mornings for 20 minutes and in the afternoons for ten minutes. There are 12 students in my form and they range in age from 16-17 years old. They are currently in lower sixth and many are finding the step-up to A Level academically challenging. The idea is to find out whether there are relevant techniques that can help students with their personal growth, curiosity and exploration.
The plan for the study is outlined below:
Engage with the literature – what does the existing research say?
Collection of baseline data – what is the students’ starting point?
Discussion with students – identification of main issues and relevant techniques
Intervention – introduction of techniques to students
Collection of post-intervention data – did said techniques make a difference?
How to best implement metacognition in Trinity School?
How can schools best use metacognition so support students to be independent learners/more in charge of their own learning?
What does the research suggest students and teachers should know about metacognition?
Even though I will be focusing exclusively on a Lower Sixth tutor group, these questions are of a broader nature. The idea is that this case study could act as a pilot scheme to test the options for potentially introducing metacognition on a wider scale. Thus I believe the scope of this study is ambitious and given the time frame, it is unrealistic that I will be able to fully answer these questions. The aim is to use this as a starting point before proceeding to take this further in future years.
The intended research method for this study is that of a mixed-method. I will use a combination of quantitative data, e.g. through initial surveys, and qualitative date, in the form of follow-up interviews, in order to gather the most accurate picture of what the current situation is like.
The aspects being studied is students in the Lower Sixth and their use of time during form time twice daily. I will make use of elicited data.
Results and discussion:
One thing was clearly noticeable when speaking to the students and also highlighted in the initial survey. This was that they naturally do think about their thinking. This can be seen in the chart below:
From the pie chart we can see that 64% of the respondents think about their thoughts at least ‘sometimes’. However, as the next pie chart shows, this thinking is often limited to just that, i.e. thinking. When it comes to ‘monitoring’ their thoughts, which of course is a huge part of metacognition, there was a sharp fall in the number of students doing it. Only 45% of students said they did this at least ‘sometimes’.
The final finding of the initial survey that caught my attention is shown below. Different ways of learning the subject, with more active use of metacognition being one of them, is clearly not a big part of their lessons. In other words, it seems that students do spend time thinking about their thoughts, i.e. what could be considered the initial step required for metacognition to develop, but that they lack the tools needed to do so successfully. These tools could clearly be provided to them during lessons as part of a drive to strengthen in this area.