“Students who reflect on their learning are better learners than those who do not. Being aware of oneself as a learner and constantly monitoring the effectiveness of one’s learning involves metacognition, a term used by cognitive psychologists to describe the “executive function” of the mind (Barkley, 2010, p 30).
The ability to evaluate and revise our cognitive strategies (how we learn) and our regulatory strategies (how we control our learning) is known as metacognition. Zimmerman (1990) noted several key characteristics of self-regulated learners in regards to their metacognitive skills.
- Plan and set goals
- Apply learning strategies
- Utilize ongoing self-monitoring and identify problems
- Evaluate and make revisions to the learning process as needed
Here is a video that does a great job of explaining metacognition its application in the classroom setting.
To further expand our understand of the interplay between the teacher and the student in achieving self-regulated and self-directed learning it is helpful to examine the work of Grow. Grow (1990) developed a model to help frame the stage of the student’s stage of self-direction with the style of teaching that would best match it.
(Figure from Grow, G.,O., 1990, p 6).
Grow (1990) recognized that learning is dynamic and “(e)ven a single class meeting could be organized so that students move from dependency, through intermediate stages, to more self-directed learning (p 17). This was demonstrated in the video.
To engage the process of metacognition I propose having students :
- Evaluate their abilities or understanding of the material at the start of the class: What do they know and what don’t they know. (SET 47, Barkley, 2010). Also, have them examine their preconceived beliefs or assumptions about the material or issues that will be discussed;
- Outline a learning goal and plan for learning at the start of the class (SET 43, Barkley, 2010);
- Keep track of their muddiest point. At the end of the class they can hand it in to the teacher who will it out loud for class discussion;
- Evaluate learning strategies (SET 44, 49, Barkley, 2010);
- Create a learning journal or learning log (SET 41, Barkley, 2010).
Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques – A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Grow, Gerald O. (1991/1996). “Teaching Learners to be Self-Directed.” Adult Education Quarterly, 41 (3), 125-149. Retrieved from http://longleaf.net/wp/articles-teaching/teaching-learners-text/motivating-increase-self-direction/1458677111_0d5d4153d30f44d62defe7776d05de3e
TEAL Centre Staff, 2012, Fact Sheet: Metacognitive Processes. Retrieved from https://teal.ed.gov/tealguide/metacognitive
Zimmerman, B..J. (1990) Self-Regulated Learning and Academic Success: An Overview Educational Psychologist, 24(1), 3-17 Lawrence Erbaum Associates, Inc. Retrieved from http://itari.in/categories/ability_to_learn/self_regulated_learnin_g_and_academic_achievement_m.pdf