PIDP 3250 Metacognition

I am facilitating the forum for the next week or so and the topic is Learning to Learn (Metacognition)
My initial reaction was Metacog What? One of the most important skills we can teach our students – this intimidating word metacognition. Quite simply metacognition means thinking about thinking, in other words basically the thinking that we do about our learning. It is a very internal process. Metacognition also refers to situations where students learn about how their memory works. They come to understand which techniques are effective for learning and committing new knowledge to their long term memory. They also develop the ability to reflect on their failures, determine where they went wrong and plan what their next steps will be. The skills of metacognition put students in the driver’s seat. These skills allow them to take control and influence their learning. I believe that an important job for us educators is not only to teach students what they should learn, but to teach them how to learn so that they can own the process and construct their own understanding. Learning to think about learning is vital for education. It’s an important part of being a critical thinker which is required in every field. Being aware of my metacognitive abilities and teaching students how to develop their metacognitive abilities is a big part of my job as a teacher. It teaches us to solve problems and to learn from our mistakes. We need to work to guide students to become more strategic thinkers by helping them understand the way they are processing information. Questioning, visualizing, and synthesizing information are all ways that we can examine their thinking process. Through scaffolding and reciprocal teaching, students are able to practice the skills that lead to these overt acts becoming automatic.

The question asked on the forum by our instructor-Doug Mauger, is what role do we educators have in helping students learn how to learn?
I realize that in order for our students to develop metacognition, it is important not to do too much thinking for them. If we do the thinking for our students, we may make them experts at seeking help, rather than expert thinkers. We should set tasks at an appropriate level and prompt our students to think about what they are doing as they successfully complete these tasks. By doing this we can help our student become independent and successful thinkers. In other words, it is often better to say, “What should you do next?” and then to prompt the student as necessary, instead of simply telling them what to do. Students can be encouraged to develop a sense of their own knowledge by asking questions such as, “What do I know? What don’t I know? What do I need to know?” I think using reflection is a great way for students to develop metacognition. We can help students to reflect on what they know and what they want to know as they embark on the study of a new topic. Reflection can promote deep learning and can be used as a strategy for students who embrace lifelong learning. For learning to occur, learners must be able to reflect upon what they currently know and consider how the new information is applicable to them or the task they are completing. Reflective questions can help students become aware of what they can do and make connections to the tasks at hand. Constructivism is a learning theory that resonates with me as an instructor. Constructivist teachers encourage students to constantly assess how the activity is helping them gain understanding. By questioning themselves and their strategies, students in the constructivist classroom ideally become “expert learners.” This gives them ever-broadening tools to keep learning. With a well-planned classroom environment, the students learn HOW TO LEARN and develop metacognitive skills.
An additional method that was brought to my attention is note taking. Students have a great deal of knowledge and they need to develop reliable mechanisms for recording and retrieving it when necessary. Note-taking is also a learning process in itself, helping students to process and understand the information they receive.
This article highlights Effective Note Taking Strategies
http://www.usu.edu/arc/idea_sheets/pdf/effective_note_taking.pdf

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