CamSTAR Project – Stephen Tibble 2018-2019

CamSTAR Project – Stephen Tibble 2018-2019

Focus, Context & Reading:

Metacognition is a whole-school priority for T&L improvement, and an area of interest personally. Second year into a new GCSE spec, 3rd year into a new A-Level spec, my imagination had been captured to explore the idea further of developing resilience, independence and deeper learning in order to improve exam performance. This is due to the new specifications encouraging teaching to the domain of History, rather than to the exam, as the assessment criteria have made this increasingly difficult by design. Ethically, this also fits my motivation for teaching.

Book 1 – Using Reflection & Metacognition to Improve Student Learning; Kaplan, Silver, LaVaque-Manty & Meizlich, Stylus Publishing, USA, 2013.

The broad, yet relevant idea that students’ confidence levels can substantively impact their ability to prioritise from a range of possible approaches to a task.

Book 2 – Teaching Students to Drive their Brains, Conyers & Wilson, ASCD Publishing, Virginia, USA, 2016.

The tentatively posited idea that students can become more acutely aware of how, when, where and why to use certain cognitive strategies over others, and that students can be guided to recognise this in a school setting.

Book 3 – Metacognition, Dunlosky & Metcalfe, Sage publishing, Ohio, USA, 2008.

The specific idea that it is scientifically unsound to claim that accurate prediction of another’s metacognitive thinking, or even recall of memory is possible. Any prediction of what would be recalled or the exact nature of metacognitive functions and actions in another would necessarily be flawed by the dynamic nature of each person’s brain’s unique method of metacognitive development.

Research Question:

Can a metacognitive strategy improve exam performance?


  • Sample = A Yr10 class of mixed ability (16 students), 50% boys & 50% girls.
  • Control group of students chosen from another Yr10 set, same % boys & girls, same teacher and similar but not identical mix of ability.
  • Before each 12 mark Q set, I taught 2 lessons focused on AO1 (knowledge).
  • Used online stopwatch on Whiteboard, 15 minutes, same advice beforehand & exam conditions each time.
  • After each 12 mark Q, I marked all and gave formative feedback (personalised) and summative feedback (mark out of 12). I also asked students to rate their confidence on this question type.
  • Dataset: Confidence level; AO1 / AO2 performance out of 6 each;  
  • The metacognitive strategy I taught between each time was “B.U.S. the Question” (Box the command word, underline the scope, and stick to that within response).

Strengths & limitations & managing those:


The 12 mark Exam Q is representative of the 3 terminal exam papers for the GCSE. It is a mid- to high-tariff question within the full range of questions across all 3 exams.


Exam performance difficult to measure over 10 strands. Overall mark was the only summative performance measure shared with students, so this limited feedback to a mark out of 12 and formative feedback and to teaching of the B.U.S. metacognitive strategy.


Findings & Discussion:

  • In the majority of cases, the student’s performance out of 12 showed a general progression towards improvement over time.
  • There was no conclusive evidence to suggest the BUS strategy led to improvement in students’ score out of 12.
  • This could be due to metacognitive function being unique to the individual and due to the process of recalling, prioritising and applying a strategy or strategies that would improve performance being more complicated and difficult to predict than is able to be improved by teaching the BUS strategy.



  • Further action research to be completed with different foci within the scope of metacognitive strategies.
  • For a more valuable focus of research with more potential merit for our BPS and departmental context, a broader enquiry into independent learning strategies in general is recommended.