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Check out this compilation of Three Ms teaching strategies to help students foster growth mindset, develop metacognitive skills, and improve effective memory strategies.

Applying the Three Ms

The Learning at Iowa initiative supports instructors in promoting equitable student learning.

Drawing on evidence-based strategies from cognitive science, this site provides practical and easy-to-implement recommendations on incorporating these learning practices in your classroom. In addition, student-facing materials about effective learning and customizable tools to promote reflection such as cognitive wrappers and metacognitive prompts can be imported directly to your ICON course site via Canvas Commons.

Teaching Resources

We have compiled multiple teaching strategies based on the Three Ms into one document for your convenience. 

Use this menu to identify new strategies you can use to foster your students' growth mindset, promote their metacognitive skills, and improve their effective memory strategies. 

Three Ms Teaching Strategies Menu 

The following handouts demonstrate how an instructor can incorporate different aspects of cognitive science research into their classroom teaching.  Each handout provides an overview of a specific metacognition or memory strategy, the evidence supporting its effectiveness, and suggestions for implementation in different types of courses.   

Instructors can promote metacognitive processing skills by asking students to reflect on their own learning process. This document summarizes some simple strategies to promote planning, monitoring, and evaluating skills:

The extensive list of questions below is organized into planning, monitoring, and evaluation categories. Instructors can assign specific questions from each category for discussion boards, use them as in-class activities, or even ask students to respond to a specific question as a Top Hat quiz.

This video provides a concise introduction to the application of Mindset, Metacognition, and Memory concepts:

Student-facing Materials

These student-facing handouts can be used in any course and can be uploaded to your class ICON site or emailed to students as a resource. Both handouts contain a brief discussion of Mindset, Metacognition, and Memory concepts and related strategies for students.

Cognitive wrappers, also known as "exam wrappers" are structured reflection activities that ask students to review their study strategies and reflect on their performance on an exam or assignment. Instructors can use wrappers to help students evaluate how effective they were with their learning, and thus, identify the steps they will take to prepare for the next exam/assignment in order to meet their goals. 

Our version of wrappers contains a variety of options that instructors can customize to best fit their discipline and course:

Note: These cognitive wrappers are also available as ICON Quizzes that can be imported directly into your course ICON site. For step-by-step instructions on importing materials from Canvas Commons, please click here.

Students can complete these quick, anonymous surveys via Qualtrics and receive personalized feedback about their skills and preferences related to the Three Ms. A direct link to each of the assessments appears below:

All three options are described in this document: Self-assessments.

All incoming first year and transfer students (beginning Fall 2022) are introduced to the Learning at Iowa framework in their on-boarding course, CSI:1600, Success at Iowa. In Stage 4 of the course, students watch a brief video about each of the Three Ms. Instructors can share the links below and encourage students to watch (or rewatch) the videos to refresh their understanding of the Three Ms and related strategies they can use to boost learning and academic success.

  • Mindset: In this first video, we introduce the Learning at Iowa program and the principles from cognitive science called the Three Ms. Students will also learn about the differences between having a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
  • Metacognition: In this video, students will discover how essential metacognition is in learning and explore the metacognition process.
  • Memory: In this video, students will learn about how memory works and about strategies for building stronger memories.