Teach the Earth > Metacognition
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This page first made public: Aug 1, 2008

The Role of Metacognition in Learning

An awareness of the learning process can improve learning dramatically (e.g. How People Learn, NRC 2000). Yet students are rarely taught how to develop this awareness. We can help our students to improve their learning by incorporating metacognition into our courses: by having them think about their thinking and by helping them to become aware of and monitor their learning strategies.


A Carleton College geology student thinking through deformation history on a trip to Baraboo, Wisconsin. Photo by Tim Vick; used with permission.

Resources for Teaching Metacognition

  • This brief introduction defines metacognition and related terms and describes the results of research on the teaching and learning of metacognition.
  • Teaching metacognition summarizes some of the recent research on teaching and learning metacognitive behaviors and describes some effective, easily incorporated teaching activities.
  • Teaching metacognition in large classes, written by Perry Samson, at the University of Michigan, describes his experiences developing and using web-based tools to teach metacognition in large classes, and gives five examples of metacognitive teaching activities suitable for large classes.
  • We have a collection of teaching activities that focus on or include the teaching of metacognitive skills. If you have a teaching activity that incorporates metacognition, please share it.
  • Strategies for teaching metacognition can provide ideas to incorporate metacognitive tactics into your classroom.
  • Watch videos of metacognition presentations from the 2008 workshop on the role of metacognition in teaching geoscience. While these presentations focus on geoscience, the information they contain is applicable to a wide range of disciplines.
  • Check out our selected reference list or browse our full reference collection on metacognition.
  • Dexter Perkins and Karl Wirth convened two sessions at the 2009 GSA annual meeting on fostering the development of metacognition and self-regulation. Most of the presentations are available here: 2009 GSA session on metacognition.

Workshop on the Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience

A workshop on the role of metacognition in teaching geoscience was held at Carleton College, in Northfield, MN, in November, 2008. The workshop program page contains PowerPoint files, suggested teaching strategies and links to working group pages. We have videos of many of the presentations. You can also find essays about metacognition submitted by workshop participants. While the focus of this workshop was in geoscience, the information in these pages is applicable to a wide range of disciplines.

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Share insight, ask questions or network with other faculty who are engaged in teaching or researching metacognition.


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