What is metacognition?

Metacognition: the act of thinking about thinking or knowing about knowing or cognition about cognition.  For example

J. H. Flavell first used the word “metacognition”.[5] He describes it in these words:

Metacognition refers to one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes or anything related to them, e.g., the learning-relevant properties of information or data. For example, I am engaging in metacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; if it strikes me that I should double check C before accepting it as fact.

—J. H. Flavell (1976, p. 232).  Wikipedia.

Research in this field includes aspects such as:

  • Self-regulation – thinking about staying on task
  • Epistimology – what is knowledge
  • Metacognitive beliefs – ideas about how my own cognitive processes operate
  • Metacogntive awareness – understanding I can reflect on my own thinking
  • Metacognitive experiences – experiences designed to provide opportunities for metacognitive reflection
  • Metacognitive knowledge – knowing about my own cognitive processes
  • Etc…

Not quite metacognition – knowing about learning

The framework of becoming a teacher is not primarily about thinking or at least in the current educational context it isn’t.  The current educational context plants this type of learning in the area of learning either content and skills.  Online learning environments particuarly with their focus on information management and research lend themselves more to the areas of epistomology, comprehension monitoring and learning strategies.

As part of my interest in understanding how we help students make sense of all this interaction and how we turn this into data for assessment I’m also interested in if designing in this interactive environment is different to designing in say word or powerpoint.  Does the interactive element provide something that allows us to explore students learning of learning strategies and understanding of their own concepts of learning.

This means it isn’t really about thinking skills – even though thinking skills are a really important part of this.

How do you know when you have learnt something?

The thing about students as designers of learning is that it allows you to have lots of interesting conversations.  One conversation that is fundamental to the learning design process is ‘how do you know if your learner has learnt something?’.

We will look at and ask the questions in the authentic context of students as designers of learning.  For example:

  • If a student has found that all their questions have been answered incorrectly – asking them what this means in terms of learning.  Does it reflect a lack of understanding on their part?  Does it reflect a lack of understanding on the learners part?  How would they know?  How do they decide how they know?
  • If a students has found that the learner hasn’t answered them in the way they expected.  Again what does this show about the learning that has happen?

How do you feel you learn best?

As designer of learning the learner has the opportunity to contemplate the  (although for many students this is challenging).

  • As a participant in learning.  Do they feel they learnt better as a participant?  Why?  What sorts of activities did they engage in?  Which had the most impact on their learning?
  • As a participant in the design of learning. Do they feel they learnt better as a designer of learning or a teacher?  Why?  What sorts of activities did they engage in?  Which had the most impact on their learning?

Bonus track – How did aspects of this project help you learn about learning?

Some of the questions that might help us uncover student thinking in this area might include:

  • Technology
  • Collaboration
  • Media
  • Projects
  • Learning environments

Do you know of any quality research…

  • in the area of student understanding of their selection and use of learning strategies
  • student learning strategies used
  • student reflections on learning