Metacognitive Thunks: This Month's Metacognition Teaching Resource Spotlight

Each month we take a closer look at one of the metacognition or self-regulated learning teaching resource that we offer. The aim of self-regulated learning is to empower students to take control of their own learning-processes; metacognition is the cognitive aspect of self-regulated learning and emphasises the awareness, understanding & regulation of thought.

Reading these monthly posts can contribute to your continued professional development and give you new ideas for classroom practice: why not try a new resource each month and, slowly but surely, become a master of metacognition! Perhaps you’ll be inspired to make a new resource to use with your students or, if you’d like to save time, you might download and try one of the resources from our site.

Our teaching resources are aimed at teachers of students aged 11-16 and can be used by all teachers: regardless of their subject-specialism. They emphasise student-reflection, metacognition and self-regulation.

This month we’re looking at The Metacognitive Thunk Generator. Links to order and download the resource can be found at the bottom of the article or you can click here.


What Are Metacognitive Thunks?

A ‘thunk’ is a thought-provoking and open-ended question designed to trigger deep-thinking, higher-order thinking skills and philosophical discussion. Usually a ‘Thunk’ will seem a little silly or abstract to begin with but when students really start to think about them it can stimulate great debate. A ‘Metacognitive Thunk’ is a question that leads to metacognitive reflection and awareness: typically they refer to epistemological questions around the nature of knowledge and how one can come to knowledge. Example questions include:

  • "What is a thought made of?"

  • "What does the word 'intelligent' really mean?" and

  • "What is the difference between knowledge and belief?"

  • What Is The Metacognitive Thunk Generator For?

The Metacognitive Thunk Generator allows teachers to instantly conjure one of over a hundred metacognitive thunks: it is ideal for starting debates and discussion around metacognitive issues in form-time and lessons. Included are handy discussion guidelines to foster healthy debate. It’s a great tool to use at the end of lessons if a teacher has a few minutes to spare or, alternatively the resource could form the basis of an entire learning session.


How Do I Use The Metacognitive Thunk Generator?

The Metacognitive Thunk Generator is ready to use; once you’ve downloaded it simply run the PowerPoint and you will be able to bring up a new discussion prompt. It includes a randomisation feature allowing for students to randomly select new questions.


How Does The Metacognitive Thunk Generator Foster Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning?

The Metacognitive Thunk Generator uses philosophical questioning to trigger deep reflection and discussion on matters relating to metacognition. Some of the questions refer to learning and how students might increase learning power, other point more directly to the nature of thought and knowledge itself and the means to acquiring it.


Which Teachers Can Use This?

This resource is suited for teachers of any subject.


To Which Students Is It Most Suited?

This resource is aimed at students aged 11-16 though is suitable for a wider age-range.


How Else Does It Benefit Students?

It's a highly flexible tool that allows students to practice their philosophical, critical-thinking, discussion and debating skills: teachers can experiment using different discussion formats as they see fit and practice their own questioning skills in the process. Philosophy with young learners has been shown to be an effective way to cultivate critical, philosophical and higher-order thinking skills and this resource is a useful gateway into philosophy for students.


Where Can I Get It?

This resource can be ordered or downloaded by clicking here. Membership Plan holders can download it freely via the ‘Member’s Area’ by clicking here. You can browse our other metacognition and self-regulated learning-resources here.

You can also use the site menu to navigate and download our large collection of metacognition & self-regulated learning teaching resources. Don’t forget to check-out the ‘Free Downloads’ section of the site!