metacognition

Developing 21st Century Skills: Metacognition

Elevate students to a level of thinking beyond their current capabilities by developing metacognition through intentional methods in your classroom.

Breaking out of the traditional teaching mold isn’t always easy. Training students to think in a different way and recognize the reasons for their own thoughts will help educators focus on teaching lessons rather than individual student thought processes. This approach will help students succeed in your classroom and beyond as metacognition is an important 21st century skill.

Understanding the Concept of Metacognition

metacognitionMetacognition is the recognition and understanding a person has of his or her own thoughts. Through carving out time in class for building metacognition skills, teachers will help students understand the reasons they perceive concepts in certain ways. When students have a firm grasp of their own thought processes, they will learn how to work through problems efficiently by using this knowledge.

Teachers spend a lot of time not only teaching lesson plans to students, but they also help kids develop the skills to think through problems. Rather than explaining to students how they should think and perpetuating the myth that there is only one right way to approach a problem, teachers will find more success in showing kids how they can develop strong metacognition skills to understand their reasons for thinking in a certain way.

Building Metacognition in the Classroom

1. Wrap Up Lessons

The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College suggests using wrappers to help students build metacognition. These methods to build self-monitoring skills are divided into three areas: lecture, homework, and exam wrappers. Each of these require students to share their thoughts regarding important points a teacher makes during a lesson, assess their own abilities to complete homework assignments, or evaluate their own performance on exams.

2. Strategic Study

metacognitionUsing metacognition principles, psychology scholars at Stanford University led a study that examined the relationship between how students studied and their performance on exams. The researchers selected a control group of students to receive a general reminder prior to their statistics exam. Using a “Strategic Resource Use” intervention, the Stanford team sent the email to the other group, but also asked about the material they thought the exam would cover, the study resources they thought would best prepare them for the test and the reasons surrounding their choices, and how these tools would be used. The students who performed this self-assessment of the exam and their own study habits performed better than the control group.

Many of these techniques can be easily adopted by classroom teachers looking to improve their students’ study habits and abilities to reflect independently.

3. Hit Record

Encourage students to record themselves working through problems outside the classroom. Whether they record a homework or study session after school, students should vocalize the steps they take to solve a problem or learn a new concept. Through repeating steps as they are performed and listening to the playback, students will be able to identify insights into their own learning habits.

Building any skill requires a commitment to cultivation. By encouraging students to focus on strengthening their metacognition, teachers can help kids develop a strength that will provide an advantage throughout their lives. Find out more about this important 21st century skill by exploring “5 Ways to Improve Metacognition.”

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Dorothy Crouch is a California-based writer who has covered many topics such as financial technology, travel and the pet-goods industry. Born and raised in New York City, she pursued her undergraduate degree at Hunter College and an M.S., Publishing degree through Pace University. Combining her love of learning and curiosity of the world, Dorothy studied abroad at Dublin, Ireland’s Trinity College, igniting a passion for travel. Dorothy’s thirst for knowledge and love of learning has led her to travel the world and pursue higher learning, including scuba certification. A lifelong animal lover, Dorothy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their fish and two lovable, spoiled dogs.

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