What is metacognition? The term is derived from the Greek root word meta – meaning beyond and the Latin word cognoscere meaning getting to know – combined with cognition, the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. More profoundly metacognition is thinking about thinking. It is the ability for you to control your own thoughts. The concept was introduced by John Flavell in 1979 when he stated that knowledge given by thinking is able to be controlled via various strategies, including organisation, adaptation, and monitoring. Then reflection on undertaken tasks and processes can be made to choose and use the most appropriate ones within your interactions.
Look at what does metacognition mean and how to improve metacognition here…
Metacognition in Education
Why is metacognition important? Metacognition is considered to be a significant component of effective learning. It involves self-regulation and self-reflection of strengths and weaknesses and emphasises how problems are thought through with strategies created to solve them.
In the classroom this is related to the student’s ability to analyse how they think, selecting appropriate and helpful strategies for tasks, and having high self-awareness alongside control of their thoughts. Metacognition takes thinking about thinking to another level as it also encompasses the regulation of thoughts, actively channelling them to change behaviours and enrich achievement.
Examples of metacognition in schools cover the students:
- Abilities to critically analyse thinking – accepting they can be wrong by taking a step back and assessing thoughts which plays a key role in becoming an independent learner.
- Control over thoughts and having high self-awareness – being aware of skills and what can and can’t be done. Knowing the limit of capabilities is helpful when looking for areas to improve.
- Aptitude in developing strategies at every stage of a given task by:
- Thinking which strategy has worked previously for a similar task and what the best first step would be
- Ensuring they are staying on track and the task so far is working
- Having a consistent self-debrief after the task enabling identification for improvement without excessive emotions that could easily cloud judgement and learning
Metacognition can be categorised as:
This is the reflection on different ways used to study for tests or resolve problems. Learning styles and strategies are used to reach goals with the knowledge known about yourself as a student learner. Types of metacognitive knowledge include:
- Content knowledge – also known as declarative knowledge – is the understanding of student’s own capabilities and realising that a lack of effort in self-evaluation can affect the overall knowledge of a concept, and accepting that when greater confidence is associated with performing well this could be due to a less accurate metacognitive assessment.
- Task knowledge – also known as procedural knowledge – is the perception of the difficulty of a task covering content, time taken, and the type of assignment. The ability to evaluate the task is related to the overall performance.
- Strategic knowledge – also known as conditional knowledge – is the capability of using strategies to learn information, and using this to develop effective strategies.
This is the way to direct thoughts and learning through metacognitive regulation strategies including planning and rehearsing, utilising charts and graphs to plot and check goals, and monitoring comprehension. An example is the identification of a particular strategy that didn’t give the intended results and decisions made to try a different one.
Improving metacognition is different for every individual student but basic rules can be introduced to help with metacognitive thinking. These include:
- Identifying what works well and what doesn’t – seeing what can be improved and sustained to aid with setting targets – and building a positive student-teacher relationship
- Reflective thinking relating to experiences of setbacks, mistakes, and failures which increases self- awareness, a vital feature of metacognitive thinking
- Reflexive thinking which involves becoming aware of prejudices and biases that can affect judgements, leading to becoming adaptive thinkers and rising to challenges
Within the classroom setting teachers can show students that metacognition is a skill that can be taught and learned. Simple guidelines include:
- Monitoring understanding by students reading aloud to share observations
- Reporting on moments to generate discussion on how the text of tasks informed their thinking
- Follow up questions
- Assessing different assignments to determine which strategies worked best
- Revising tasks by reflecting on whether the problem could have been handled differently
Metacognition in Psychology
What is metacognition in psychology? Metacognition is a deeper level of thinking that includes abilities to think about your thinking – and how you use your thought processes to adapt, change, and control. In experimental psychology, influential decisions are made between monitoring – making judgements about the strength of memories – and control using those judgements to guide behaviour.
This is the internal response to learning where feelings and emotions help with the understanding of expectations and progress, whilst connecting new information to that already learned.
Internal responses can be those of frustration, happiness, satisfaction, or disappointment – which can lead to incompletion of tasks and willingness to continue. The ability to deliberately maintain a positive attitude and feelings towards learning is critical.
These are what you individually design to monitor your progress linked to learning and tasks, and the strategy becomes a mechanism for controlling your thinking to ensure goals are met. Strategies can include:
- Monitoring your understanding
- Recognising when you fail to understand
- Identifying other strategies that could help improve your understanding
- Maintaining a positive attitude throughout
- Creating a system to ensure you understand what has been learned
Safely Explore Your Metacognitive Abilities
During the workshops created by Silvia Polivoy at the Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center in Brazil, she teaches techniques to help participants to connect and realize their metacognition at a deeper level. This technique is one of several we implement in order to develop this resource in an efficient way so it will be easier to plan how to apply the insights during ceremonies in your everyday life after the retreat.
Workshops are carefully developed and designed to integrate information and insights and include intuitive solutions and group sharing, and are focused on spiritual development. You’ll be able to discuss your intentions during the group sharings to ensure you get all the help and advice you need to give you a greater insight into thinking about thinking.