Metacognition is a student’s ability to think about their own thinking.
Throughout our day, there are countless opportunities for us to think about our reactions and thought processes to different situations.
Metacognition is not an innate skill but is one that needs to be nurtured and taught to students throughout their adolescent years.
Why is Metacognition Important?
Metacognition is becoming an even more important skill for students to master. Students that have the ability to think about their thinking are more capable of higher-level thinking.
Higher-level thinking involves more cognitive effort. It is more than just memorizing, but requires students to apply and generalize their knowledge.
Over the years, education has moved towards teachers including higher-level questions within their curriculum. Gone are the days of students regurgitating facts from memory.
For example, instead of being asked to memorize the start and end of the Civil War, students will be asked to speak about what led up to the war and the aftermath.
This forces students to use critical thinking skills and put themselves in the mindset of the people that lived in that time period.
Having this ability increases students’ understanding and will create individuals with the critical thinking skills that will aid them in their everyday life.
How to Improve Students' Metacognition?
Knowing why metacognition is important is the first step. The next step is to support student growth with their metacognitive ability.
To build a student’s metacognitive ability, teachers need to let students struggle. When a student does not understand a concept, they should be given the opportunity to think.
Interrupting a student’s thinking process and just giving them the answer, does not support their individual growth.
When a student struggles and is able to come to an answer on their own, learn how their thinking process works.
If a student is still unable to come to an answer, they should be given a chance to ask questions on their own.
Realizing they are struggling and being a self-advocate is an important step to becoming an independent metacognitive thinker.
Furthermore, students should be allowed to reflect on their learning.
Allowing students to think about where they were before compared to their current thinking is an effective way to promote metacognitive thinking.
Assisting students with a journal and providing them with writing prompts will give students opportunities to reflect on their thinking process.
Empowering Students with Metacognitive Thinking
Not only will metacognitive training assist students with their learning, but it will also empower them to become more independent.
A student that can demonstrate metacognitive students is aware of what they need to learn and how they learn best.
Students that can self-monitor and think for themselves know their strengths and weaknesses. Metacognitive thinkers can set goals for themselves and monitor their growth.
Teachers that spend time reinforcing this will see students become life-long learners with a passion to grow as individuals.
Within our society, we want future generations to be independent and critical thinkers. To assist with this goal, we need to promote and support metacognitive thinking.