Metacognition in Education
The process of learning requires patience on the part of the students and their teachers. Undoubtedly, students will, and should, commit mistakes. Nobody expects them to be right all the time, and they’re likely to commit mistakes and even fail from time to time. It’s their teacher’s responsibility to provide them with the tools they can use to learn from those mistakes and failures and build back better.
A majority of university professors presume kids to possess these skills when they enroll in college. That’s because learning important lessons from failures and trying to implement new strategies is a major element of growth that occurs during post-secondary education. Yet, several students don’t possess these skills because formal education doesn’t always support metacognition or independent thinking.
Metacognition – Thinking about Thinking
“What do you mean by metacognition?” This is a commonly asked question. To answer, it’s the ability to assess one’s own thinking. Metacognition is at the core of developing other vital skills, such as problem-solving and critical thinking. It is an exceptionally valuable tool to improve students’ learning and help them master the subject matter knowledge and internalize information.
Reflective thinking, an element of metacognition, is the ability to reflect on learning experiences. This form of critical thinking lets students understand their own experiences better and process them.
Metacognition is an extensive field and a fairly abstract concept. However, there’s a lot of evidence that it can be taught.
Reasons to Teach Metacognitive Skills
Building understanding and accomplishing mastery over subject matter needs cognitive and metacognitive work. Real learning is created by partitioning knowledge into building blocks and stacking them up. With metacognition, students can gain confidence and become independent students, which will pave the way for enduring learning outcomes.
Students with strong metacognitive skills can think through a problem. When they take up a learning task and make decisions, they invest time thinking about their mistakes and failures and learn vital lessons from them. Some teachers educate students about having “metacognitive conversations” with themselves. Such discussions help these students self-correct, contemplate and consider challenges, and continue with their growth and learning toward mastery.
Leveraging metacognitive skills, students can do well in examinations and proficiently complete tasks. These students
- adapt learning strategies when required
- use the accurate tool for the task
- spot barriers to learning
- alter strategies to ensure goals are accomplished
Divergent thinking, one of the most significant components of metacognitive growth, refers to taking time to weigh diverse ways of finding a solution or attaining an objective. Such thinking needs an individual to exercise flexibility in what they think. However, traditional education often emphasizes convergent thinking, which is the reverse of divergent thinking.
To teach these skills, teachers need commitment and planning. Additionally, they should set tasks at a suitable difficulty level to adequately challenge their students. Teachers should refrain from thinking for their students or telling them what to do to avoid them being dependent. Students need to practice metacognitive skills, which is why the most effective teachers prod them to think by asking what should be their next step.