Researching Metacognition

This page supports

  1. Calls for Collaboration and requests for assistance in project design.
  2. Brief Research Updates on your current research related to metacognition (see below). There are many ways to disseminate your research and share your ideas so that others can learn from your efforts and your work can have broader impact. Share a 200-word abstract of your work and contact information so that site readers can contact you if they want more detail.

If you would like to submit a call or share your research, please send us a note at


Research Updates

Use of a Guided Journal to Support Development of Metacognitive Instructors

  • Lauren Scharff, U. S. Air Force Academy
  • John Draeger, SUNY Buffalo State
  • Leli Pedro, University of Colorado College of Nursing
  • Sarah Robinson, U. S. Air Force Academy
  • Charity Peak, Educational Consultant
  • Tara Beziat, Auburn University at Montgomery
  • Chris Was, Kent State University

This study is the result of an Improve with Metacognition collaboration that involved 5 institutions from across the United States: the U. S. Air Force Academy, SUNY Buffalo State, University of Colorado College of Nursing, Auburn University at Montgomery, and Kent State University. It will be presented at ISSoTL 2016 in Los Angeles, CA.

We investigated the benefits of using a guided journal to support the development of metacognitive instruction. ‘Metacognitive instruction’ is the use of reflective awareness to make timely adjustments to teaching a specific individual or group of students. Faculty and students from five institutions participated, with intervention instructors completing a semester-long reflective journal and everyone completing a series of surveys. We found that the more instructors engaged in the journal, the more likely they were to consider in-class adjustments based on student achievement of learning objectives and identify alternative learning strategies. Students reported that instructors who engaged more fully in the journal were more responsive to their learning of outcomes and engagement during lesson. Based on our findings, we argue that guided reflective journals can help accelerate instructors along a developmental arc from being teacher-centered and content-focused to being able to deliver differentiated and customized learning to a group of students, individuals within the group, or to isolated individuals in a mentor situation.


Exploring Metacognition as Support for Learning Transfer

  • Lauren Scharff, U. S. Air Force Academy, USA
  • John Draeger, SUNY Buffalo State, USA
  • Dominique Verpoorten: IFRES-University of Liège, Belgium
  • Marie Devlin: Newcastle University, UK 
  • Lucie S Dvorakova: University of Queensland, Australia
  • Jason M. Lodge: University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Susan Smith: Leeds Beckett University, UK

This project investigated how metacognition might enhance the transfer of learning from one context to another. It was the result of an International Collaborative Writing Group initiative through the International Society of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL). Our group met virtually for 6 months, and then met for 2.5 days face-to-face at the ISSoTL 2015 conference in Melbourne, AUS. Virtual meetings continued for the following 8 months, and the resultant paper is slated to be published in the ISSoTL journal, Teaching and Learning Inquiry.

Our research topic is of relevance because the ability to transfer one’s learning to new situations lies at the heart of lifelong learning and the employability of university graduates. Our exploratory study investigated whether students (N=118) and instructors (N=74) from five institutions reported similar or different perceptions and behaviors related to transfer and metacognition.

Our survey data indicated that many instructors and a majority of students do not have a clear understanding of what learning transfer entails, and that there are many mismatches between instructor and student perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors regarding learning transfer. For example, instructors were significantly more likely to agree with the statement that they help students recognize the importance of transferring their learning from the current class to other academic or non-academic contexts than students agreed with the statement that their instructors help them do so. Further, instructors report expecting students to apply their learning from one context to another on average nearly once a week, while students reported perceived expectations closer to “sometimes during the semester. Significant correlations between thinking about transfer and thinking about learning processes and the likelihood to use awareness to guide practice support further inquiry into the use of metacognitive practices to support learning transfer.


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