Have you ever thought about thinking?
This hot topic is known as metacognition, the awareness of understanding your thought process and understanding the way those patterns work behind them. It includes many different strategies that access and monitor knowledge: from “the feeling of knowing” to problem-solving.
We do it every day, even if we are not always fully aware of what we are doing when we think about doing a task. We all have different levels of metacognition, and in a lot of ways, metacognition can be helpful.
Metacognition itself is divided into three separate components: metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive regulation and metacognitive experiences.
Metacognitive knowledge is the awareness people have about themselves and other people, while metacognitive regulation is the control over both cognition and experiences through a series of processes for a specific individual.
In practice, these cognitive efforts in place are known as metacognitive experiences. In the steps for building one’s metacognitive regulation, people develop three skills in doing so: planning, monitoring and evaluating. They develop these skills within different types of metacognitive knowledge: declarative knowledge (factual information we know), procedural knowledge (step-by-step information performing a task), and conditional knowledge (when to use a procedure, skill).
Overall, there is much recent research to support the fact that metacognitive strategies in education improve learning. All kids think metacognitively, however, training children to use metacognition proactively allows them to overcome their greatest academic obstacles. Many students today face the challenges of procrastination, poor study habits, test stress and homework meltdowns.
However, to tackle these problems, students can rewire the way they look at specific assignments and change their mindset to one that promotes higher levels of self-awareness and resilience with metacognitive strategies.
In some schools, metacognitive strategies are used for self-regulation as different students are known to have different learning styles and different ways of handling situations. Metacognition can be encouraged in children by asking themselves open-minded, non-blaming, solution-focused and process-oriented questions in a reflective way.
By allowing them to learn about how to learn, and think about how to think, encouraging metacognitive strategies to be used in school overall gives a boost to students.
The use of advanced metacognition also has its fair share of critics. In many cases, some psychologists argue that metacognition, despite all of its benefits, can be unhelpful in certain scenarios. Those psychologists argue that higher levels of metacognition can actually interfere with task performance.
For example, empirical evidence from different studies demonstrates that concurrent verbalization with metacognitive experiences impairs performance that relates to “intuitive feelings.” This negative effect is known as verbal overshadowing, and it can be explained in terms of a discrepancy between verbal labels and properties of the practical experience. This is why many argue that this cost outweighs the benefits of engaging in metacognitive strategies, especially at young ages.
The debate of whether the concept of metacognition should be maximized and studied in schools is still up today.
Should it be up to districts to decide? Should it be up to schools to decide? Should it be up to individual teachers to decide for specific classes?
More research needs to be done about the topic in order for people to decide whether having a specific metacognition level may be good for themselves or not.