Your Strategies for Success: Metacognition


In our last blog on Metacognition, we discussed how it could help your students make the grades.

In this article, we discuss in depth how students really learn, and why it is necessary to teach metacognition in your classrooms.

Is it necessary to teach metacognition?

Most often kids attribute their success at school to good luck, and their failures to their lack of ability.

Truth is, learning is not a one-time activity. It’s not an event. Learning is a process. It involves students revisiting their classwork, and it involves students acknowledging their mistakes, understanding if the work could be improved, and planning the improvements based on those revisions.

Student success is a result of this ‘learning cycle’. True learning happens when students take charge of this cycle. Successful students repeatedly evaluate their performance, list the steps that would help them improve their performance, and revise their concepts.

Usually, students are expected to learn the subjects from what is presented to them.  They sit in classrooms, listen to a lecture, practice during the class, and do homework till the concept is drilled into their brains.

Unfortunately, this is not how true learning happens. This process does not ensure long-term retention.

Although, most children study sincerely, they fail to grasp the concept. Once a concept gap develops, it expands with every subsequent lesson. The larger this gap becomes, tougher it is for the student to bridge it. Lower grades reflect this gap. Since, these students have no prior knowledge of the process of learning, and they think they lack the ability to succeed.

Moreover, many teachers, even today, presume that students already possess a roadmap for monitoring their learning. They teach with the presumption that learning is an outcome of proper lesson-planning and classroom instruction.

The lessons are designed based on learning styles, and count on the students to pick up the classroom instruction. They think that if their class practices enough and regularly, it can achieve subject mastery.

Learning is a gradual experience. Students, especially the younger once, depend on their teacher and their surroundings to grasp concepts.

Metacognitive skills give students the tools to understand their learning. Teaching students how to take control over their learning helps them develop tools to take responsibility of ‘the way they learn;’ and helps them (self) regulate their learning processes.

Students with metacognitive skills develop flexibility in their approach to learning. They possess a number of strategies, and are can easily assess which ones to use at the appropriate times.

What teaching metacognition really means

It means teaching students to take control of how they study; how they organize their work; and how they reflect upon it. Teaching students the skills of planning, self-monitoring and self-evaluating is crucial.

Five things that our students need to learn about learning

  1. Setting learning goals and planning for success

  2. Monitoring their own learning, what they understand, what they don’t

  3. Awareness of their current learning status

  4. Scrutinizing what they could not understand

  5. Recognizing the changes in themselves whenever they learn something new

You can start by encouraging students to keep concept log-books. These log books help them identify the structural properties of problems. Teaching students to ask question is another good strategy. As they continue questioning, they develop the skills so f identifying similarities and differences among various approaches. Group discussions and classroom interviews are a few more effective strategies.

Developing metacognitive awareness isn’t an easy process. It takes time, and it takes effort. Howbeit, these skills are necessary for students. Metacognition is essentially learning how to learn. It helps students develop strategies to approach unknown problems.

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