Archive for March 31st, 2016

March 31, 2016

Metacognition: What’s the Fuss About?

“We don’t learn from experience, but from reflecting on experience.” (John Dewey, although disputed)

I know the buzzwords in education have invaded us in the past few years and, hopefully, we can navigate media better so as to not get trapped in them. As fancy as they may sound, they are not far from what we have already been doing as teachers and I am not certain an inflation of edu-words helps us in our practice, on the contrary. However, since these words are being circulated often, I decided to discuss one, “metacognition”. My source is Handbook of Research on Learning and Instruction, more specifically chapter 10 (pages 197-219).

Historical roots

In the educational literature two terms are being used interchangeably despite having different conceptual roots and theoretical perspectives.

Metacognition theory: it originated from developmental psychology with Piaget (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958) and Flavell (1970) as progenitors. It focused on “reflective abstraction of new or existent cognitive structures”; simply put, a person’s thinking about own thinking/cognition.

Self-regulated learning (SRL): emerged from metacognition theory above and Bandura’s self-regulation theory. The emphasis is on the regulation of learning processes and outcomes (Dinsmore et al, 2008; Zimmerman, 1995). In other words, knowing what, how and when to apply a specific strategy to monitor, carry, and self-evaluate learning.

The line between the two, however, became fuzzy over time and researchers themselves plead for more clarity in conceptual and operational definitions.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Why does this matter?

Wang, Haertel, and Walberg (1990) concluded from their literature review that metacognition is the most important predictor of learning performance.

Veenman , in an overview of studies with learners of different ages, performing different tasks in various domains (2008), estimated that metacognitive skillfulness accounted for 40% of variance in learning outcomes.

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