Tactics for the Classroom

In “Promoting Student Metacognition,” Tanner (2012) offers a handful of specific activities for biology classes that can be adapted by students to any discipline and by faculty in the process of course/assignment design:


  • Encouraging students to examine their current thinking: "What do I already know about this topic that could guide my learning?"
  • Encouraging faculty to examine their assignment: "What do I want my students to master as a result of this assignment and is this intention obvious to the students themselves?"

The Muddiest Point

  • Giving students practice in identifying confusions: "What was most confusing to me about the material explored in class today?"
  • Anticipate potential areas of confusion or ambiguity in the assignment, both in terms of the task students are being asked to perform and the manner in which the task will be assessed.

Retrospective Post-Assessments

Pushing students to recognize conceptual change: "Before this course, I thought evolution was… Now I think that evolution is… " or "How is my thinking changing (or not changing) over time?"

Pushing students to articulate the learning they did as a result of the assignment and to reflect on the connection between the work of a discipline and the writing conventions that attend it: "Writing this abstract really made me distill my ideas to their essence and to be clear about my thesis."