Metacognition in the Classroom

As I begin my graduate program, my first course EDTC 6100: Digital Education Leadership Orientation gave me the opportunity to learn more about reflective assessment strategies and why teachers and schools might choose to use them. Reflective assessment strategies are great tools for teachers, schools, and really anyone to use even outside of education in order to really dive deeper into what they are thinking and learning. This idea of reflective assessment gives a more concrete name to and example of metacognition or thinking about what you’re thinking. According to Bond, Evans, and Ellis (2011), “Reflective assessment is a formative approach that emphasizes the joint participation of teachers and students in the assessment process” (p.32). So it’s not just about students doing the reflections but really about teachers and students reflecting about the lesson. It can take the form of students talking about what they learned, what they know, what they don’t know yet, and what they still hope to learn. Teachers can then take that reflective assessment and use it to determine what students learned and what students are still struggling with. Teachers can then adapt their lessons for the next day in order to reflect that knew knowledge and to help students progress and grow. 

Bond, Evans, and Ellis (2011) suggest three different types of reflective strategies that teachers and schools can use with their students. These assessment strategies are “I Learned” Statements, Clear and Unclear Windows, and The Week in Review. These three different strategies allow students an opportunity to explore what they have learned. It provides students time to digest the information, reflect, and communicate to themselves and their teacher how they are feeling about the lesson. Students are provided time to express what they have learned and in some cases what they have not learned yet. In taking time to explore their thinking students are becoming better communicators and are able to work on better expressing themselves. “Self-diagnosis is a valuable skill because it enables the learner as well as those entrusted to help the learner to know where to start” (Ellis, 2001).This can be important especially later in life when students may need to advocate for themselves. The reflective assessments are also a great opportunity for teachers to use the information gained from the student reflections in order to assess their own teaching and how they can adapt their instruction for their students. If students are still struggling with a concept the reflective assessment gives teachers knowledge of this thus allowing teachers to design additional tasks and/or lessons for students. 

While reflective assessments are beneficial for classroom use with students they can also be an important tool in teacher evaluations. Reflective assessments can be a form of data for teachers to use in order to collect and document student progress or growth over a given period of time. This data allows teachers to show evidence of student growth and of their work and support of students in making progress. According to (Danielson, 2011)

Assessment of student learning plays an important role in instruction; no longer does it signal the end of instruction; it is now recognized to be an integral part of instruction. While assessment of learning has always been and will continue to be an important aspect of teaching (it’s important for teachers to know whether students have learned what was intended), assessment for learning has increasingly come to play an important role in classroom practice. (p. 62)

With this collection of data teachers are thus able to impact their classroom practice and have the data to support that impact when it comes time for their evaluation. “Incorporation of formative data, collected through classroom-based reflective assessments, as a complement to standardized test results will broaden the information base, as well as increase the credibility of the evaluation process” (Bond, Evans, and Ellis., 2011).

Therefore when we allow for metacognition to occur within the classroom we are not only benefiting students and teachers, we are also benefiting the entire educational system as a whole. Students flourish because they are able to deeply think about and express or articulate what they are learning and what they are still unsure of. Teachers benefit because they get to know their students on a deeper level and what they know and what they are still unclear about. The school system benefits because they have more deeply invested students and teachers as a part of the educational process and they are all working together.


Bond, J.B., Evans, L., & Ellis, A.K. (2011). Reflective assessment. Principal Leadership, 11(6), 32-34.

Danielson, C. (2011). The framework for teaching evaluation instrument. Princeton, NJ: The Danielson Group.

Ellis, A.K. (2001). Teaching, learning, & assessment together: The reflective classroom. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc.

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