Developing metacognition and self-regulated learning (SRL) skills improves educational performance and attainment. There is evidence that interventions focused on these skills may help students from low SES backgrounds, but we are still learning how best to facilitate this development. A recent review by Daniel Muijs and Christian Bokhove of the University of Southampton in England synthesized studies to determine the programs and characteristics that have the greatest impact on metacognitive and SRL development.
Effective instruction included direct approaches via explicit instruction and modeling of metacognition and SRL practices by teachers, and indirect approaches such as the presence of a learning environment with relevant practice opportunities, dialogue, and scaffolded inquiry with student autonomy. Teachers felt more successful programs lasted more than two semesters, included leadership support, training and mentoring, and a receptive environment for the intervention.
Some practices appeared to have more of an impact than others. Intrinsic to the process of SRL and metacognition development is assessment. Using formative assessment and feedback strategies enable students to monitor their own progress and make changes as necessary, creating a scaffolding approach effective in several meta-analyses. Interventions embedded within subject content were more successful, supporting the theory that SRL and metacognition are highly specialized, and the relevant skills do not necessarily transfer from one subject area to another.
Practices that one might assume would lead to strong SRL, including planning, self-checking, and making adjustments, were just moderately correlated with attainment, while recordkeeping and goal setting were weakly related. Similarly, Muijs & Bokhove found mixed conclusions about group interventions. While small group interventions were more effective than one-on-one or large group interventions, other analyses found minimal or slightly negative effects of group work and cooperative learning interventions.