Equipped for the Future - Teaching & Learning Toolkit
Building Metacognitive Awareness
Metacognition is the awareness of one's thinking and the strategies one is using. It enables students to be more mindful of what they're doing (or learning) and why, and of how the skills they're learning might be used differently in different situations. Research indicates that learners who are skilled in metacognitive self-awareness are more strategic and perform better than those who are unaware." (Rivers 2001; Schraw and Dennison 1994). According to a research review by Susan Imel (ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, 2002):
Metacognition refers to the ability of learners to be aware of and monitor their learning processes (Peters 2000). Although related, cognition and metacognition differ: cognitive skills are those needed to perform a task whereas metacognitive skills are necessary to understand how it was performed (Rivers 2001; Schraw 1998). Metacognitive skills are generally divided into two types: self-assessment (the ability to assess one's own cognition) and self-management (the ability to manage one's further cognitive development) (Rivers 2001). Successful adult learners employ a range of metacognitive skills and effective teachers of adults attend to the development of these skills.
Metacognition is not something you teach with discrete activities, but should rather be woven through all your learning activities. Questions that build metacognition by drawing attention to how we use strategies to learn and accomplish tasks include:
Metacognition and Second Language Teaching