To help understand and control one’s cognitive ability, a system has been devised which is known as metacognition. The root word ‘meta’ means ‘beyond’ and cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. For the sake of simplicity, the process can be defined as ‘Thinking about thinking’.
It is a learning system where students are able to learn independently. They control the process of learning. They know about their own method of learning. They do a self-evaluation of their learning needs. They devise their own corrective measures. They implement their own methods of learning. It is also best suited for the complete holistic development of an individual.
So how is metacognition relevant to the field of education. For purposes of illustration, let us consider our students as belonging two separate groups: the first is a group of academically successful students, who can take charge of their learning by being able to think effectively and independently; we also have the other group of students who do not learn how to manage themselves effectively. After repeated setbacks, they tend to become disillusioned and disengaged from learning, eventually becoming source of disciplinary issues in the classroom.
Metacognition can be viewed as a powerful tool that gives you the ability to think about your thoughts with the aim of improving learning. So how does metacognition really help the students? It puts them in the driver’s seat when it comes to monitoring their learning journey.
Metacognition promotes independent thinking and charting of your own course at school, with your career, and life in general. It makes you more conscious, reflective, and aware of your progress along the learning path. The strategies can also be applied to other aspects of life.
Can metacognition be taught and learnt? The answer is in the affirmative. Metacognition can be practiced across content and social contexts. Let us see how.
Use driving terminology to drive home the point: Explaining the need to apply brakes, as in reviewing a reading passage to make sure that it is understood, or how accelerator can be used to avoid getting stuck in one place are some of the ways you can do it.
Learn from mistakes: Teachers, while discussing strategies, can deliberately make some mistakes and then stop and take the students through the process of correcting. There are twin benefits here: first, that it is alright to make mistakes; secondly and more importantly, the mistakes should be viewed as a way to learn and improve.