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Metacognition is simply explained as the awareness and understanding of one’s thought process. In other words, it’s the process of thinking about thinking. And one’s self-reflection on their present as well as their future choices and goals.
When you come to think of it metacognition is a basic survival strategy. A strategy that humans have unconsciously been implementing since day 1 as a regulatory system. And that helps them understand and control their thought processes and cognitive performance. Scientists have even discovered that metacognition is present in rats.
How does This work?
Several pieces of research and studies have been able to break down the skills of metacognition. It is in two complementary processes that simplify it and make it easier to remember. According to researchers, metacognition’s constituents are the knowledge of cognition and the regulation of cognition,
Knowledge of cognition has three components:
- knowledge of the factors that influence one’s performance.
- knowing different types of strategies to use for learning.
- knowing what strategy to use for a specific learning situation.
As for Regulation of cognition, it involves:
- Goal orientation and planning.
- monitoring and controlling learning.
- evaluating one’s regulation (assessing results and strategies used).
What is the importance of metacognition?
Now let’s be realistic at this point. You are probably thinking ‘all this information is interesting enough. But why do we need metacognition and how will it help us in our daily lives?’
Well, Let’s answer your question. Consider people who have developed metacognition. They can assess their thought processes and reframe the way they think to adapt to new situations. This not only helps you achieve your goals but also strengthens your personality making you more flexible to change.
When using metacognition, people gain an understanding of the situations, processes, and methods that work best for them. Through trial and error, they begin to come to an understanding with themselves regarding which technique works for them best.
Perhaps the most vital reason for heightening metacognition is that it can improve the application of knowledge. It also improves skills, and character qualities in realms beyond the immediate context in which they were learned.
And lastly, extensive studies have shown that adults whose metacognitive skills are well developed are better problem-solvers. They are better decision-makers and critical thinkers. They are also able and more motivated to learn. And are more likely to be able to regulate their emotions (even in difficult situations). They can handle complexity, and cope with conflict.
Metacognition and learning
As humans, we learn something every day no matter how insubstantial it is. Our life revolves around learning and gathering knowledge. Whether it is in a school, university, workplace, or even reading a book we constantly learn. That being said, Research shows metacognition increases people’s motivation because people feel more in control of their learning. People who learn metacognitive strategies are more aware of their thinking. And more likely to be active learners who learn more deeply. Also, Improved metacognition can aid both formal and informal learning. It can improve the performance of new tasks on the job.
Metacognition allows people to take charge of their learning. Because it involves awareness of how they learn. It helps in the evaluation of their learning needs, generating strategies to meet these needs, and then implementing the strategies. Learners often show an increase in self-confidence when they build metacognitive skills.
For all age groups, metacognitive knowledge is crucial for efficient independent learning. Because it fosters forethought and self-reflection. Since it is a self-monetary process that helps the individual to find out strategies to learn and memorize. This ability helps people gain achievement orientation, either mastery or performance, which in turn results in academic success.
Metacognition and motivation
Motivation is something everyone struggles to achieve. Sometimes it seems like we have all the ingredients for success but not the drive to implement the recipe. Whether it’s because of the fear of failure or other factors. Luckily metacognition will help solve that issue or at the very least minimize it.
The idea of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is woven into the fabric of this context. The intrinsic factor is important in the belief of whether or not the individual can perform. Or has the belief that he/she has the skills capable of performing the task. The early years of cognitive thought led Bandura (1994) to discover that self-efficacy belief.
Beliefs “determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves, and behave”. Self-efficacy affects the affective, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of the individual’s belief that he/she can perform the task. It is how the person feels and thinks that affects metacognitive skills. Skills that develop and that vary with each person’s age and development.
“Children should be taught how to think and not what to think” -Margaret Mead