21 Self

To make our students independent learners, we need to teach them how to reflect on their own learning. This means actively incorporating metacognition into all of our courses. Metacognition is thinking about thinking and learning about learning. We need to create feedback structures that allow for students to begin by engaging in reflection on their own performance. What do they identify as their strengths and weaknesses? What barriers did they encounter when trying to complete a complex task?

Check out this great resource on the basics of metacognition from Cambridge: Getting started with Metacognition

There are four Metacognitive phases:

  • The Planning Phase is when learners think about the learning goal the teacher has set and consider how they will approach the task and which strategies to use.
  • The Monitoring Phase is when learners implement their plan and monitor the progress they are making towards their goal.
  • The Evaluation Phase is when students determine how successful the strategy they used was in helping them achieve their learning goal.
  • Reflection is a fundamental part of the plan-monitor-evaluate process. Encouraging learners to self-question throughout the process will support this reflection.


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio, via Pexels

By making students the agents of their own feedback, they will learn how to self-regulate their performance. However, as with all aspects of student learning, this type of feedback requires scaffolding.  Students often don’t come to university already possessing these skills, but they are expected to have them when they leave university. They need to start by practicing how to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning.

Self-Feedback Strategies

Here are some suggestions for how to create opportunities for self-feedback:

  • Design a rubric students can complete to evaluate their own work
  • Create a learning journal
  • Ask the students to create a portfolio of the work on which they would like to be assessed
  • Ask students to write a short reflection paper or discussion post on what they have learned after a particular activity
  • Use an exam wrapper that asks students to reflect on the way they studied for the exam and what they would do differently to study for the next exam


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