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What Is Metacognition ?

It's a weird thought, but as human beings, we do 'think about what we think'; we 'know about what we know'. This process is known as Metacognition, and is our own ability to have an awareness of our cognitive processes when we are learning. It's not a bad thing, but a useful mechanism. When we are given a job to do, we can make our thinking clear and thus choose the correct response, which allows us to experience success. The theory has great significance to everyone of us - we all rely on it, even if this is a subconscious effort.

The man who put forward the theory of Metacognition in 1979, J.H. Flavell, did so for the whole of society, to help them understand their thoughts and aid their learning. In today's world, the concept is used in many schools where teachers and pupils can think up beneficial learning strategies and activities through reflecting on their good and bad assets, what has worked in the past, and what they want to achieve.

Used in a variety of learning circumstances, Metacognition, can help us in tackling a range of projects. Whether it requires math, literacy, problem solving or reading skills, the mechanism for 'knowing about knowing' can almost always be applied to help us see what existing knowledge we can use, and how we can develop our weaker points.

As a whole, the process consists of three main stages: planning and development, carrying out the plan, and examining how well it went. At each stage, we can think about what we are thinking to maximize our own productivity. When in the developmental part of the process, we can ask ourselves what we already know that we can use to help us, how we want - and need - to focus our thinking, and what preparations we should make before we begin.

Secondly, when overseeing the task, we need to ask ourselves: am I moving in the right direction - how am I doing? We should also think about what we have done and thought that has been helpful, and what we have found out that we should try and remember.

At the last stage, we need to evaluate what we've carried out. We have to analyze how we think it went, what we could have done differently to make it better, and what knowledge we've acquired that we could possibly adapt to suit different circumstances in the future.

All of these three stages rely upon Metacognition. For some, it comes naturally; for others, it takes more time and effort - but eventually, it will come. We need to focus upon what we are doing and thinking in order for the concept to have the largest positive impact, avoiding distractions and influences from others and the environment. We can have discussions with others outside of our tasks to help us understand the process and its complexity in more depth, and we can predict what the outcomes of what a particular task are going to be. Over time, these techniques will increase out Metacognitive capacities.

Places To Learn More About Metacognition

  1. Study Strategies, Monitoring, and Motivation
  2. Learning to learn

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