Metacognition: Secondary Observation of Cognition and Learning
Learning is a lifelong process that is very essential to our growth. It is paramount, therefore, to always seek ways to improve the learning process and how we understand things, that is, the development of cognition. We have to reflect on what we know, how we know them, how we have come to accept them as part of our knowledge bank, how better we can understand these things and more. These are the themes that metacognition focuses on.
Metacognition refers to the ability to contemplate and understand how one processes thoughts and feelings. It looks into how we can control these processes. It is a critical analysis of our thinking and learning patterns that involves planning, monitoring and evaluating our learning.
Metacognition in Life: Lifelong Growth
The importance of metacognition in every aspect of life at large cannot be overemphasized. This is because it puts into consideration one’s current position, future goals, potential actions and strategies, as well as results. At its core, it is a basic survival strategy – yes, without metacognition, we would not evolve, and, dare say, we would die!
Metacognition Checks Learning
Education is an aspect of life, right? How then can metacognition be applied to students’ learning and cognitive development? Metacognition encourages students to understand how they learn best. They will be able to know what methods work for them and what does not when it comes to studying. For instance, a student reads at night (at least five hours!) and gets sub-optimal results (maybe 40%); metacognition would bring up the reason behind such results (maybe reading proves unfruitful, as all that is read is forgotten the following day); it may even go to the extent of counselling him or her to change the time for reading. Problem solved with metacognition!
Also, metacognition will enable one to note what was easy to learn and what concepts were difficult to grasp… and why. It would help them in assessing their knowledge gap and working on bridging it. It is not enough to just know what went wrong: metacognition also offers ways to resolve the ‘mishap’.
Metacognition: the Drive for Development
In addition, metacognition helps individuals become more aware of important personal skills to develop as they get older. People who have developed metacognition can assess and, if need be, reframe the way they think to adapt to new situations. It develops positive self-evaluation in students. Knowing their deficiencies, they are able to patch up the missing pieces with the required skills – be it learning to smile more in order to get a partner for laboratory experiments, or cutting down on the I-to-know (ITK) behavior to allow for contributions from other group members and better results.
Aside from helping in personal development, metacognition also helps in making learning fun and memorable. Getting fruit from your labour makes the labour seem so little of a deal: indeed, metacognition is a seed that yields a great harvest of recallable knowledge. How easy it is to carry out the activities involved in learning with metacognition!
Metacognition: the Bricks for the House of Confidence
Ever been in an argument before? Ever been so convinced of how right you were and how wrong the other person was? You remembered reading it, and remembered understanding the nitty gritty behind the concept, and even remembered how you came to this understanding. In fact, nothing said by the other ‘lawyer’ would have strayed you away from your stand because you were so sure of what you learnt and how you came about that knowledge. Metacognition offers us this confidence. Therefore, strive to develop it.
To develop metacognition, we must take into account a statement from Dr Marilla Svinicki, a renowned educational scholar, which says: “The foundation of good teaching is attention to student learning.” Whether it be others, or the individuals themselves, development of metacognition requires paying attention to learning. And maybe you are thinking: “Isn’t paying attention to learning metacognition already?” Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but learning metacognition involves consistent use of metacognition!
Formulating the Bricks
Firstly, students should be intentional to reflect on their learning and see how their knowledge has changed over time. They become open to strategies that have worked to aid their learning and those that do not suit them to discard them. This sounds like wisdom talking – yes, perhaps metacognition needs a tinge of wisdom to develop it.
Secondly, teachers should give room for students to reflect on their values and belief systems, especially on issues of bias. It opens them up to how and why they formed such a system of belief to live by; it pushes them to personal growth. Teachers should also give assignments that encourage students to get the answers on their own. There is no greater food for personal growth than learning things on your own. As people say:
Experience is the greatest teacher.
Also, encouraging group work among students would push them to work in new ways. They get to learn how to look at problems from other perspectives while working with others. They also come to understand how to solve problems with better approaches in the future. After all, no one is an island of knowledge; there would always be a better way of doing something, which another person knows and you don’t.
Read about more ways through which learning environments unlock cognition here
So therefore, having come to learn about how metacognition contributes to the process of learning and cognition, pay attention to not only what you learn, but also how, when and why you learn what you learn. The responsibility to develop better ways of learning and cognitive ability is yours; rise up and take up this responsibility now! Remember, metacognition is a seed worth tending to fruition.
Written by Oluwatoyosi
For the Editorial Team, God Is Love Educational Foundation