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THINKING ABOUTTHINKING:Learning How to Learn
Compiled by Marc Imhotep Cray, M.D. [12-13-V1]
For Imhotep Virtual Medical School
Metacognition 1Deductive reasoning 8Inductive reasoning 11Problem solving 16Decision-making 25Logical reasoning 33
ReferencesArticle Sources and Contributors 34Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors 36
Article LicensesLicense 37
MetacognitionMetacognition is defined as "cognition about cognition", or "knowing about knowing". It can take many forms; itincludes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving. There aregenerally two components of metacognition: knowledge about cognition, and regulation of cognition.Metamemory, defined as knowing about memory and mnemonic strategies, is an especially important form ofmetacognition. Differences in metacognitive processing across cultures have not been widely studied, but couldprovide better outcomes in cross-cultural learning between teachers and students.
Some evolutionary psychologists hypothesize that metacognition is used as a survival tool, which would makemetacognition the same across cultures. Writings on metacognition can be traced back at least as far as De Animaand the Parva Naturalia of the Greek philosopher Aristotle.
DefinitionsJ. H. Flavell first used the word "metacognition". He describes it in these words:
Metacognition refers to ones knowledge concerning one's own cognitive processes and products or anythingrelated to them, e.g., the learning-relevant properties of information or data. For example, I am engaging inmetacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; [or] if it strikes me that I shoulddouble check C before accepting it as fact.J. H. Flavell (1976, p. 232).
A. Demetriou, in his theory, one of the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development, used the termhypercognition to refer to self-monitoring, self-representation, and self-regulation processes, which are regarded asintegral components of the human mind. Moreover, with his colleagues, he showed that these processes participatein general intelligence, together with processing efficiency and reasoning, which have traditionally been consideredto compose fluid intelligence.Metacognition also thinks about one's own thinking process such as study skills, memory capabilities, and the abilityto monitor learning. This concept needs to be explicitly taught along with content instruction. Metacognitiveknowledge is about our own cognitive processes and our understanding of how to regulate those processes tomaximize learning. Some types of metacognitive knowledge would include: 1. Person knowledge (declarativeknowledge) which is understanding one's own capabilities. 2. Task knowledge (procedural knowledge) which is howone perceives the difficulty of a task which is the content, length, and the type of assignment. 3. Strategic knowledge(conditional knowledge) which is one's own capability for using strategies to learn information. Young children arenot particularly good at this; it is not until upper elementary where students start to develop the understanding ofstrategies that will be effective.Different fields define metacognition very differently. Metacognition variously refers to the study ofmemory-monitoring and self-regulation, meta-reasoning, consciousness/awareness andauto-consciousness/self-awareness. In practice these capacities are used to regulate one's own cognition, to maximizeone's potential to think, learn and to the evaluation of proper ethical/moral rules.In the domain of experimental psychology, an influential distinction in metacognition (proposed by T. O. Nelson &L. Narens) is between Monitoringmaking judgments about the strength of one's memoriesand Controlusingthose judgments to guide behavior (in particular, to guide study choices). Dunlosky, Serra, and Baker (2007) coveredthis distinction in a review of metamemory research that focused on how findings from this domain can be applied toother areas of applied research.In the domain of cognitive neuroscience, metacognitive monitoring and control has been viewed as a function of the prefrontal cortex, which receives (monitors) sensory signals from other cortical regions and through feedback loops
implements control (see chapters by Schwartz & Bacon and Shimamura, in Dunlosky & Bjork, 2008).Metacognition is studied in the domain of artificial intelligence and modelling. Therefore, it is the domain of interestof emergent systemics. It has been used, albeit off the original definition, to describe one's own knowledge that wewill die. Writers in the 1990s involved with the musical "grunge" scene often used the term to describeself-awareness of mortality.
ComponentsMetacognition is classified into three components:1. Metacognitive knowledge (also called metacognitive awareness) is what individuals know about themselves and
others as cognitive processors.2. Metacognitive regulation is the regulation of cognition and learning experiences through a set of activities that
help people control their learning.3. Metacognitive experiences are those experiences that have something to do with the current, on-going cognitive
endeavor.Metacognition refers to a level of thinking that involves active control over the process of thinking that is used inlearning situations. Planning the way to approach a learning task, monitoring comprehension, and evaluating theprogress towards the completion of a task: these are skills that are metacognitive in their nature.Metacognition includes at least three different types of metacognitive awareness when considering metacognitiveknowledge:1. Declarative Knowledge: refers to knowledge about oneself as a learner and about what factors can influence
one's performance. Declarative knowledge can also be referred to as "world knowledge".2. Procedural Knowledge: refers to knowledge about doing things. This type of knowledge is displayed as
heuristics and strategies. A high degree of procedural knowledge can allow individuals to perform tasks moreautomatically. This is achieved through a large variety of strategies that can be accessed more efficiently.
3. Conditional knowledge: refers to knowing when and why to use declarative and procedural knowledge. It allowsstudents to allocate their resources when using strategies. This in turn allows the strategies to become moreeffective.
Similar to metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive regulation or "regulation of cognition" contains three skills thatare essential.1. Planning: refers to the appropriate selection of strategies and the correct allocation of resources that affect task
performance.2. Monitoring: refers to one's awareness of comprehension and task performance3. Evaluating: refers to appraising the final product of a task and the efficiency at which the task was performed.
This can include re-evaluating strategies that were used.Similarly, maintaining motivation to see a task to completion is also a metacognitive skill. The ability to becomeaware of distracting stimuli both internal and external and sustain effort over time also involves metacognitive orexecutive functions. The theory that metacognition has a critical role to play in successful learning means it isimportant that it be demonstrated by both students and teachers.Students who demonstrate a wide range of metacognitive skills perform better on exams and complete work moreefficiently. They are self-regulated learners who utilize the "right tool for the job" and modify learning strategies andskills based on their awareness of effectiveness. Individuals with a high level of metacognitive knowledge and skillidentify blocks to learning as early as possible and change "tools" or strategies to ensure goal attainment. Swanson(1990) found that metacognitive knowledge can compensate for IQ and lack of prior knowledge when comparingfifth and sixth grade students' problem solving. Students with a high-metacognition were reported to have used fewerstrategies, but solved problems more effectively than low-metacognition students, regardless of IQ or prior
knowledge.Metacognologists are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, the nature of the task at hand, and available"tools" or skills. A broader repertoire of "tools" also assists in goal attainment. When "tools" are general, generic,and context independent, they are more likely to be useful in different types of learning situations.Another distinction in metacognition is executive management and strategic knowledge. Executive managementprocesses involve planning, monitoring, evaluating and revising one's own thinking processes and products. Strategicknowledge involves knowing what (factual or declarative knowledge), knowing when and why (conditional orcontextual knowledge) and knowing how (procedural or methodological knowledge). Both executive managementand strategic knowledge metacognition are needed to self-regulate one's own thinking and learning.
Finally, there is no distinction between domain-general and domain-specific metacognitive skills. This means thatmetacognitive skills are domain-general in nature and there are no specific skills for certain subject areas. Themetacognitive skills that are used to review an essay are the same as those that are used to verify an answer to a mathquestion.Metacognitive experience is responsible for creating an identity that matters to an individual. The creation of theidentity with meta-cognitive experience is linked to the identity-based