Can Independent Learning and Metacognitive Strategies Improve Exam Performance in Business and Economics in Business and Economics A Level?

To aid enhancement of student outcomes we have been researching the impact of different independent learning mindsets and strategies on student performance in exams.  As part of this, the importance of students’ metacognitive knowledge and the role we can play as teachers in helping students be equipped in planning, monitoring and evaluating their own learning has been shown as significant in research findings, including that of the Education Endowment Foundation (

In Business and Economics, we will be providing instruction and support with a series of independent learning tasks to aid students in identifying where their strengths and weaknesses may be and their own knowledge of how they learn.  Students will be evaluating the effectiveness of techniques and outcomes throughout the study with the aim of being able to effectively self-select learning strategies appropriate for them in the future.

Helena Lambert-Clarke (Research champion,

Project update - February 2019

This half term, I have been providing additional guidance and modelling to students on revision strategies they could use for short assessments.  The aim of this being that they become better informed about how to study independently in the most effective way for them. 

My results so far are limited; however, students involved have demonstrated greater awareness of their learning methods through discussion, being able to distinguish between what has worked well for them, what has not and why this may be.  Students have evaluated their progress throughout the half term and made links between achievement and how they approached studying for the tests.

Helena Lambert-Clarke

Lambert-Clarke Helena.JPG

Project update - May 2019

The research project began in January 2019 with a series of short knowledge-based assessments.  All 3 Economics classes completed the same short knowledge tests each lesson.  

In preparation for the tests, each class was told a set of topics to revise.  The intervention group were instructed how to revise, with a short demonstration of how to successfully complete this, while the control groups were not given any additional advice.

In the knowledge-based assessments, there was little difference between the marks scored by the intervention group against the control groups.  However, during this time, I took feedback from all groups about how they had prepared for the tests and how effective they felt that preparation was for them.  The feedback from the intervention groups showed a greater understanding of what may have worked better for them individually and why they felt that was more, or less, effective than alternatives.  At the end of the 4 weeks some students in the intervention group were able to identify why they found certain methods more effective than others.

When analysing the short tests and year 12 exam results in terms of value added, there does not appear to be much support so far for the argument that students perform better with greater understanding of how to learn effectively.

Table 1. Mean progress (relative to ALPS) in control and intervention group




Test 1



Test 2



Test 3



Year 12 Mock



However, on further analysis into target grade groups, there shows very limited evidence that such intervention may be effective for those with C/D targets.

No C/D target students achieved below a D grade in the intervention group (Table 2), whilst in the control groups there remained E and U grades achieved.

Table 2. Percentage grade distribution in final mock paper in control and intervention group.






















The study needs much further investigation and I would expect to see much greater impact on students over the course of at least one academic year, rather than one term.

In the next stage of my research I would like to focus on C/D target students and whether greater emphasis on teaching how to develop independent study skills and awareness of learning strategies can impact to ensure they achieve a minimum of a C grade.

Research poster

Metacognition Economics Research poster