Goal of General Learning Strategies Intervention

The goal is to create short online lessons to teach people general learning strategies/metacognitive skills/mindsets of intelligence, the efficacy of which could be assessed by insertion (vs. not or some control) in an online course like those on,, The ideal goal is to find an effect on a big-ticket measure like attrition, final grades. (As have been found for Mindsets of Intelligence).

Examples of such lessons are: presenting videos to students that teach them general study skills, metacognitive strategies, or growth/malleable mindset of intelligence. Or adding (as minimally as is possible to get an effect) training programs that recur over time for problem-solving, critical thinking, goal-setting, self-explanation, comprehension.

The question:

(This is an extremely broad question, but we (implicitly) answer it all the time, so any opinions/suggestions welcome).What do you think would be the most effective lesson to teach (based on practical experience, research, your opinion)? 

What lessons or online program would you recommend looking at, or what research papers/books to read?

Alternative questions:

There is a lot of theoretical discussion & many practical programs, but do you have any opinion on what principles/approach you like the best – and what is likely to have the biggest impact on students with the least amount of exposure possible?

What are interventions that were shown to impact performance significantly after a delay – e.g. semester GPA or grades a week or more later.(Longer-range interventions are fine too – most things I've seen don't fit this criterion). 

Attempt at answer so far:

Create a lesson that teaches a "Growth mindset" of intelligence (Carol Dweck, shown to impact GPA after just 2 45 minute lessons) and then teaches a simplified version of reciprocal teaching (e.g. Palinscar & Brown 1994), by showing an example of the strategy being applied to specific content, and then walks the learner through applying it to that content. 
(Plus, draw on the literature & responses gathered below for insights/tactics that are most likely to improve such a lesson's impact on big-ticket learning measures like grades).

One email response

I think part of the difficulty in thinking about metacognitive training is that metacognition means so many different things! 

I think Ann Brown's reciprocal teaching is a great example of metacognitive training - it's both about monitoring and fostering comprehension. I haven't read all of it, but this is one training program that is documented to be very effective (and quite feasible for teachers to actually implement in a classroom). 

Palinscar, A. S., & Brown, A. L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities. Cognition and instruction, 1(2), 117–175.

I think a huge component of Alan's work on problem solving is really about metacognitive monitoring, but I don't know that it necessarily constitutes a "training program" so to speak. However, in terms of problem solving it's probably the best example I'm aware of. Unfortunately, I also know that there aren't really any good studies that are going to give you quantitatively-measured effects, if you're looking for that type of thing. This stuff is in his 1985 book - let me know if you're interested in reading it and I can send it to you.

Another example I can think of is Barbara White's metacognitive roles in science inquiry. I don't know about transfer studies, but they at least did some measures to show improvement in metacognitive abilities of students. 

White, B., & Frederiksen, J. (2005). A theoretical framework and approach for fostering metacognitive development. Educational Psychologist, 40(4), 211–223.

The other area in which you might look is at self-regulated learning. Zimmerman talks about teaching students skills of self-regulation, which would definitely be a subset of metacognitive abilities. I haven't read the training articles myself, but this 2002 article refers to a couple of pieces which may give you what you're looking for:

Examples of interventions/online programs/lessons


Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview. Theory into practice41(2), 64–70.

Azvedo SRL

Syllabus Metacognition from Barbara White's class

Schraw, G. (2007). The use of computer-based environments for understanding and improving self-regulation. Metacognition Learning, 2, 169–176. (link)

JOURNAL: Metacognition & Learning

Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance / edited by Barry J. Zimmerman, Dale H. Schu 

New York, NY ; London : Routledge : Taylor & Francis Group, 2011, c2011. 

LocationCall No.Status  
 Education-Psychology LC32 .H36 2011   AVAILABLE

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Joseph Jay Williams,
Jul 9, 2012, 9:56 PM