A metacognition project with Rosendale Research School showing a positive impact on pupils’ attainment

What we do

London CLC has a long-standing relationship with Rosendale Research School (part of the Education Endowment Foundation and Institute of Effective Education network of research schools) and worked closely with the school on a trial that used digital portfolios to support metacognition. 

Metacognition, or ‘learning about how we learn’, is a way of encouraging pupils to better understand how they learn. In conjunction with London CLC, Rosendale developed a programme known as ReflectED – an approach to learning that teaches and develops children’s metacognition skills. 

ReflectED used technology to enable fast, effective reflections and feedback. iPads sit in the middle of the table and pupils pick them up when they want to record a reflection. They use an app (originally Evernote, now SeeSaw) that gives the teacher access to their catalogue of reflections and allows them to tag their reflections accordingly. Pupils can choose to reflect using multimedia, such as a recorded voice or annotation over an image of their work. The recording lets them hear the expression in their voice, potentially making the reflection more powerful. Reflections can be sorted and stored in an accessible way so that pupils and teachers can easily access their learning journey and revisit their reflections.

What difference did it make?

The first small-scale, randomised trial in 2013 showed that ReflectEd had a positive impact on children’s attainment. Pupils who participated in the study made an average of four months additional progress in maths and developed a more positive attitude to learning compared to the control group. 

Following the success of this initial trial, in 2018 Rosendale Primary School began a whole school efficacy trial of ReflectED, once again sponsored by the Education Endowment Foundation. More than 100 primary schools around England have signed up to take part in the new trial and Rosendale has teamed up with University of York, which will be evaluating the impact of ReflectED applied as a whole school intervention on attainment in both KS1 and KS2. 

In rolling this out to a larger number of schools there have been challenges, not least that technology in schools is of mixed quality. Many schools had older devices that were no longer supported, highlighting the importance of having an equipment refresh strategy in school and some schools had very slow internet or wifi connections. Staff skill sets were another challenge. We have found that ongoing, sustained CPD or peer support is essential for schools to effectively embed tools such as SeeSaw. Time needs to be allowed for teachers to support each other and disseminate their learning in external CPD.

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