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Metacognition is rarely taught in higher education (McKeachie, 1988)

Metacognition is...

  • A judgement about an internal representation," (Metcalfe, n.d., p.35)
  • Active engagement in one's learning process
  • Learning about how one learns and thinks
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977)
  • Monitoring and evaluating one's learning
    • E.g. as Dewey (1933) emphasized systematic reflection being key to learning
  • The conscious use of strategies which have been developed overtime (Borkowski, Carr, and Pressely, 1987)
  • Adjusting learning strategies to adapt to varying contexts
  • Flavell (1979) suggests metacognitive knowledge emerges from the variables of "person, task, and strategy," (p. 907)
  •  A participatory pedagogy (Simmons, Barnard & Fennema, 2011) 
    • A "reflective process that brings to consciousness knowledge one may have acted on but not fully realized or elaborated, making possible future, purposeful action” (Lyons, 2002, p. 96)

Why Integrate Metacognition into Your Teaching?

  • Enhances student abilities to TRANSFER learning to new contexts
  • Empower students to
    • Identify and improve HOW students learn
    • Utilize specific skills to improve
    • Identify own strengths and areas of need
  • Recognize that they (students) ARE LEARNING!
  • Develop lifelong learners

Strategies for Integrating Metacognition into Your Courses

Metacognition is learned and enhances student performance.
Approaches to consider include:

  • Offering students opportunities to learn how and why particular strategies are effective will enhance transfer of such strategic knowledge to novel tasks (Borkowski, Carr and Pressely, 1987)
    • Feedback provision and prompts on strategies selected
  • Creating tasks that specifically asks the students to: (provide a list of questions for them to act on)
    • Formulate appropriate plan(s) to both successfully engage in a task and effectively monitor progress towards that end
    • Monitor and adjust strategies as they engage in the task
    • Evaluate learning and strategy application to task
  • Provide time toward the end of EACH class meeting to asks questions, seek clarifications, and discuss challenging concepts/ideas
  • Integrate E-Portfolios to assist with the self-reflection process
    • Include reflections of the 'process' for major tasks, activities, and assignments
    • Encourage a variety of formats (digital) within the E-Portfolio
  • Teaching Metacognition (Improve with Metacognition)

References and Resources

Bandura A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychology Review, 84, 191–215

Borkowski, J., Carr, M., and Pressely, M. (1987). "Spontaneous" strategy use: Perspectives from metacognitive theory. Intelligence, 11, 61-75

Dewey J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston, MA: Heath

Flavell, J. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34, 906-911

Flavell, J. (1987). Speculations about the nature and development of metacognition. In F. E. Weinert and R. H. Kluwe (Eds.), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (21-29). Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Improve with Metacognition (MERLOT Classics Award Winner)

Lyons, N. (2002). The personal self in a public story: The portfolio presentation narrative. In N. Lyons, & V. Kubler LaBoskey (Eds.) Narrative inquiry in practice: Advancing the knowledge of teaching (pp. 87-100). New York: Teachers College Press.

McKeachie, W. J. (1988). The need for study strategy training. In C. E. Weinstein, E. T. Goetz, and P. A. Alexander (Eds.), Learning and study strategies: Issues in assessment, instruction, and evaluation (pp. 3–9). New York: Academic Press

Metacognition - Vanderbilt University

Metacognition and Student Learning - Chronicle of Higher Education

Metcalfe, J. (2013). Evolution of metacognition. In J. Dunlosky and R. Bjork (Ed.s), Handbook of metamemory and memory (29-46). NY: Psychology Press

Metcalfe, J. and Shimamura, A. (Ed.s). (1994). Metacognition: Knowing about Knowing. Boston, MA: MIT Press

Simmons, N., Barnard, M. & Fennema, W. (2011). Participatory pedagogy: A compass for transformative learning?Collected Essays on Teaching and Learning 4, 1-7

Teaching Metacognition - Carlton College (Teach the Earth)

Weinstein, C., Husman, J. and Dierking, D. R. (2000). Self-regulation interventions with a focus on learning strategies. In M. Boekaerts, P. Pintrich, and M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (727-747). San Diego, CA: Academic Press

Last Published: Mar 12, 2021