The Role of Metacognition in Learning
What Is Metacognition? | Metacognition Improves Learning | Teaching Metacognition | Events | Share a Teaching Activity
What Is Metacognition?
Metacognition is broadly defined as thinking about thinking and learning. This brief introduction defines metacognition and related terms and describes the results of research on the teaching and learning of metacognition.
Metacognition Improves Learning
A person's ability to learn is mutable, not fixed. Understanding this fact alone can have a profound impact on students' learning (Lovett, 2008). Teaching our students to be strategic learners is therefore one of the most valuable skills we can give them. Teaching metacognition summarizes some of the research on teaching and learning metacognitive behaviors and describes some effective, easily incorporated teaching activities.
The Place of Metacognition in the Curriculum
Thinking like a geoscientist presents several significant cognitive challenges, including (though not limited to) understanding geologic rates and time (temporal thinking), understanding complex systems, and spatial thinking, including 3D visualization. Any one of these, alone, could be daunting to our students; all of them, collectively, are almost certain to be. Teaching our students metacognitive skills will not remove these learning challenges. However, thinking metacognitively will allow our students to recognize that some of the barriers to their learning are inherent to the geosciences (or other subjects they are studying), rather than reflecting on their own intelligence. In recognizing this, more students may choose to persist in their studies of the geosciences, rather than giving up and moving to other fields of study. See examples of how faculty are teaching metacognitive skills across the geoscience curriculum.
Selected Pedagogical Approaches
- 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.
- Strategies for teaching metacognition can provide ideas to incorporate metacognitive tactics into your classroom. This list of strategies comes from participants at our 2008 Workshop on the Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience, but most are applicable in any discipline.
- We have a collection of teaching activities that focus on or include the teaching of metacognitive skills.
- 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.
- 2008 Workshop on the Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience: A workshop on the role of metacognition in teaching geoscience took place at Carleton College, in Northfield, MN, in November, 2008. The workshop program page contains presentations, 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.
- 2009 GSA session 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.
Share a teaching activity
- Share a teaching activity that focuses on metacognition.