Metacognition: Nurturing Self-Awareness in the Classroom
The question is, how can children obtain a more in-depth awareness of their own thoughts, feelings, and actions so that they can better their learning and form meaningful relationships? Human beings’ development of self-awareness — the ability to evaluate and understand who we are in relation to the environment around us — has piqued the interest of philosophers since antiquity. Researchers now know that self-awareness develops during childhood, and that its development is linked to metacognitive processes in the brain. They also know that self-awareness develops during childhood.
Making Sense of Life Experiences
The majority of teachers are aware that students who take the time to reflect on their learning become better learners. For example, some students may find it easier to think and digest information in a quiet library, but others may find it easier to concentrate when surrounded by familiar sounds or music. Learning strategies that are effective for math may be different from those that are effective for learning a foreign language. For some, understanding biology takes more time than understanding chemistry. Students learn to regulate their behaviour in order to maximise their learning as they have a greater understanding of how they absorb knowledge. They begin to recognise how their own characteristics, such as their strengths and limitations, influence their performance. Metacognition is the ability to reflect on one’s own thought processes, according to neuroscientists. According to study, when students’ metacognitive abilities improve, they are also more likely to perform at higher levels.
Metacognition is a critical component of all learning and life experiences, regardless of subject matter. Beyond academic learning, when students become aware of their own mental states, they are better able to answer critical questions, such as the ones below:
Recently, philosophers and cognitive scientists from around the world convened for a workshop to investigate the nature of self-awareness and how it is related to metacognition. In accordance with scientific theory, self-awareness is associated with the paralimbic network of the brain, which is thought to serve as a “tool for monitoring, controlling, and adjusting our behaviour and beliefs about the world, not only within ourselves but, more importantly, between individuals.” This higher-order thinking method actually alters the structure of the brain, making it more adaptable and receptive to even more learning opportunities in the future.
The Compass AdvantageTM (a strategy developed to engage families, schools, and communities in the concepts of positive youth development) emphasises the importance of self-awareness since it plays a vital role in how kids make meaning of their life events. Self-awareness is one of the eight Pathways to Every Student’s Success because it has been shown to be associated with each of the other Compass qualities, particularly empathy, curiosity, and sociability.
Compass in the centre, surrounded by empathy, curiosity, sociability, resilience, self-awareness, integrity, resourcefulness, and creativity on the outside.
Student self-awareness is essential for increased learning since it allows them to focus their energies more efficiently on the material they still need to learn. The ability to reflect on one’s own thoughts improves as one gets older. According to research, the majority of metacognitive development occurs between the ages of 12 and 15. (PDF, 199KB). The ability to reflect on, monitor, and assess one’s own learning processes is developed in students by teachers, who in turn help them become more self-sufficient, flexible, and productive. Students enhance their ability to analyse options and evaluate alternatives, which is especially important when the answers are not evident. When pupils are having difficulty understanding, they rely on reflective tactics to identify their issues and make an attempt to fix the situation. Improving metacognitive skills related to students’ schooling offers young people with the tools they need to reflect on and grow in their emotional and social lives as a result of their education.
7 Strategies That Improve Metacognition
1. Teach students how their brains are wired for growth.
The views that students hold about learning and their own brains will have an impact on their ability to do well in school. In contrast to pupils who have a fixed mindset, research reveals that students who develop a growth mindset are more likely to engage in reflective thinking about how they learn and improve. It is possible to teach children about the science of metacognition, which can be a powerful tool in helping them grasp how they can literally expand their own brains.
2. Give students practice recognizing what they don’t understand.
The act of being perplexed and recognising one’s own lack of knowledge is a critical component of developing self-awareness and comprehension. Towards the end of a hard lesson, take some time to inquire, “What was the most perplexing aspect of the content we examined today?” This not only helps to kickstart metacognitive processing, but it also helps to build a classroom atmosphere in which perplexity is accepted as a normal part of the learning process.
3. Provide opportunities to reflect on coursework.
Students learn to notice their own cognitive growth, which helps them to develop higher-order thinking abilities. The following are examples of questions that may be useful throughout this process:
I used to believe that earthquakes were caused by ______ before taking this course. After further consideration, I have concluded that they are the outcome of .
What, if anything, has changed in my thinking on greenhouse gases since taking this course?
4. Have students keep learning journals.
The usage of personal learning journals can be a useful tool in assisting students in keeping track of their own thinking. Assign weekly reflection questions that encourage students to consider how they learnt rather than what they learned. Among the possible questions are:
What was the most straightforward concept for me to grasp this week? Why?
What was the most difficult concept for me to grasp? Why?
What study tactics did I use to prepare for my exam that were successful?
What tactics did you use to prepare for the exam that didn’t work out? What am I going to do differently the next time?
What study habits were the most effective for me? How?
What new or improved study habits do you plan to implement or improve upon next week?
Encourage students to express themselves creatively by using whatever journal formats they find most effective, such as mind maps, blogs, wikis, diaries, lists, e-tools, and so on.
5. Use a “wrapper” to increase students’ monitoring skills.
The term “wrapper” refers to a brief intervention that is used to enclose an existing activity and include a metacognitive practise into it. For example, before a lecture, you may give some pointers on how to engage in active listening. Following the lecture, instruct students to jot down three essential points they took away from the presentation. After that, give your thoughts on what you perceive to be the three most important themes and invite students to self-evaluate how closely their responses match your desired goals. When performed frequently, this practise not only enhances learning, but it also helps to strengthen metacognitive monitoring abilities.
6. Consider essay vs. multiple-choice exams.
Students utilise lower-level thinking skills to prepare for multiple-choice exams, whereas higher-level metacognitive skills are used to prepare for essay exams, according to the findings of research. While it takes less time to grade multiple-choice questions, even the inclusion of a few short essay questions might help students better reflect on their learning as they prepare for a test.
7. Facilitate reflexive thinking.
A reflexive process is a cognitive process in which we become aware of our own biases, which are preconceptions that get in the way of our ability to grow and evolve. Teachers can foster a culture of deeper learning and reflexivity in their classrooms by fostering discussion that confronts human and social biases and prejudices. They develop the ability to “think about their own thinking” when they participate in discussions or write articles about political prejudices and moral challenges involving issues such as political power, wealth, racism, poverty, justice, liberty, and so on. They learn to question their own preconceived notions and develop into more adaptable and flexible thinkers.