Metacognition. By Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director Thinking about One’s Thinking | Putting Metacognition into Practice Thinking about One’s Thinking Metacognition is, put simply, thinking about one’s thinking. More precisely, it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) oneself as a thinker and learner. Initially studied for its development in young children (Baker & Brown, 1984; Flavell, 1985), researchers soon began to look at how experts display metacognitive thinking and how, then, these thought processes can be taught to novices to improve their learning (Hatano & Inagaki, 1986). In How People Learn, the National Academy of Sciences’ synthesis of decades of research on the science of learning, one of the three key findings of this work is the effectiveness of a “‘metacognitive’ approach to instruction” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000, p. 18).
References. Learning to Learn. Learning to Learn Learning to learn or metacognition, as it’s called, should start with young learners in nursery school so it becomes a habit. As we get older, we have less time to reflect about the learning process. Developing new habits become difficult. What are the benefits of learning about learning? Neuroscience and Learning Neuroscience has disclosed important information about the process of learning.
Neuroscientists now understand how the brain learns and stores information. Feelings and Learning How learners feel is very important in the learning process. Learning Today Is the learning process the same as it was in the past? Technology for Today’s Learners Technology can cater to these neuroscience brain-based findings in the computer lab as well as for online learning courses. Search for Meaning Brain-based learning findings reveal that the search for meaning is innate and occurs through patterning. Feeling Relaxed Learning cannot take place unless the learner feels “safe”. The role of metacognition in language learning. According to Vandergrift and Goh (2o12:loc 360), “metacognition, or the act of thinking about thinking, refers to the ability of learners to control their thoughts and to regulate their own learning.”
They go on to explain that despite the fact that metacognition is key to listening (the focus of their text), its role in the classroom remains minimal. I believe metacognition is a crucial part of language learning in general, but even broadening the scope in this way, I suspect the degree to which it is integrated into language learning is probably still fairly minimal, as with listening.
Indeed, in my own language learning at school and university, I can remember there being a lot of content – grammar, vocabulary etc – but I don’t remember learning how to regulate my own learning or being helped to develop metacognitive awareness. I managed, however, to learn reasonably well in the end – I did German to A-level and French up to university level, getting good results.
References: My top ten learner autonomy and metacognition resources. Are you interested in the prickly issue of learner autonomy? Do you feel that metacognitive awareness is important in language learning? Do you want to find out more about these thought-provoking elements of ELT? This latest post in my ‘ELT top ten’ series offers a list of resources to get you started with learner autonomy and metacognition.
As with all the other posts in this series, please do respond with your own opinions of resources that should be included in this list. There are tons of good books out there on the topic of learner autonomy, and I could go on forever listening ones that would be worth reading. Phil Benson: Teaching and Researching Autonomy This book offers an in-depth treatment of autonomy: Starting from theory, it looks at different definitions of learner autonomy, the history of autonomy theory, perceptions of autonomy in fields outside of language learning, issues of definition and description of autonomy and its different dimensions.
Screenshot from Amazon. An Effective Five-Minute Lesson On Metacognition. I often write about helping students exercise, and be aware of, metacognition (see Another Lesson Combining Metacognition, Writing, Speaking, & Listening) and include extensive lesson plans about it in my latest book. Today, I did a five-minute unplanned lesson on metacognition that I believe was extraordinarily effective. We were looking at writing “hooks” — openings for their biographical essays on either George Washington or Ben Franklin — and comparing several examples of good and bad ones. Students were to work in pairs and choose the best ones and write a one sentence explanation of why they thought it was better. Prior to their beginning the activity, and after I had modeled it, I introduced the word “metacognition” as part of an explanation of why I wanted them to write their reasons.
I crunched-up another sheet of paper, threw it, and it landed just short, hitting the rim of the can (again, great cheers from the class). I got another piece of paper, and threw it — bulls-eye!. The Best Posts On Metacognition. Helping students strengthen their understanding of metacognition — thinking about their thinking — is an important goal of my teaching. And I’ve written a lot about it. I thought it would be helpful to gather all of those posts in one “The Best…” list. Here are My Best Posts On Metacognition: How People Learn:Bridging Research and Practice is a new book from The National Academy Of Sciences and can be read for free online. It focuses on three teaching strategies — activating prior knowledge, focusing on big concept ideas and encouraging pattern recognition, and developing awareness of metacognition.
Do Students Know Enough Smart Learning Strategies? Is an important post at MindShift that describes a recent Australian study. Metacognition and Student Learning is from The Chronicle on Higher Education. Bringing Metacognition into the Classroom is by Lizzie Pinard. The Importance Of Explaining “Why” My top ten learner autonomy and metacognition resources is from Lizzie Pinard.
Share this: Related. Three Good Resources On Metacognition. Zenandtheactofteaching.pdf. Summary of the 26.02.2014 #ELTChinwag on Metacognitive Skills. For those not in the know, ELTChinwag discussions, organised by ELT Ireland, take place on Twitter twice a month on Mondays at 20.30pm GMT, under the hashtag #ELTChinwag. The focus is decided in advance and publicised on the hashtag, where you can also make topic suggestions. The topic on the 26th February was Metacognitive Skills. I suggested the topic and had intended to participate, but by the time I got home soon after 9 (Italian time, so in time!) I had clean forgotten about it! On the plus side, I’m participating now by writing up the discussion. Here, then, is a summary of it (NB: I have expanded contracted Tweet-speak into full sentences, to make it easier to read!) The obvious starting point, of course, was to thrash out a definition… What do we understand by ‘Metacognitive Skills’?
For me, metacognitive skills is the ability to think about how we think about, find out about and remember things (@LahiffP)Knowing what you don’t know and how to go about knowing it? Absolutely! Metacognition: The Gift That Keeps Giving. Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. They have written several books, including Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice. Students who succeed academically often rely on being able to think effectively and independently in order to take charge of their learning.
These students have mastered fundamental but crucial skills such as keeping their workspace organized, completing tasks on schedule, making a plan for learning, monitoring their learning path, and recognizing when it might be useful to change course. Many teachers we know enjoy teaching students how to wield one of the most powerful thinking tools: metacognition, or the ability to think about your thoughts with the aim of improving learning. Metacognition in the Brain How to Teach Students to Be More Metacognitive.