We need to understand the meaning of cognition before studying the importance of metacognition. Cognition is a term that refers to the mental processes of acquiring knowledge and the ability to comprehend. It involves thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving. Cognitive functions are higher-level functions of the brain, encompassing language, imagination, perception, and planning.
Now let’s add the term ‘meta’ to it. The word meta means ‘further’ or ‘on top of.’ Therefore, metacognition is ‘thinking about thinking, ‘knowing about knowing,’ and ‘being aware of awareness.’ The concept of metacognition was first introduced in the late 70s by John Flavell, an American developmental psychologist specializing in children’s cognitive development. Flavell stated that metacognition is people’s knowledge about their own mental processes.
The importance of metacognition
The importance of studying the role of metacognition stems from the fact that it helps us understand when and how to use particular strategies to solve problems or find the best ways to approach a learner-centred approach. In addition, from an organizational perspective, metacognition plays a vital role in strengthening our knowledge about how training & development initiatives and creative thinking can impact problem-solving.
The three categories of Metacognitive variables
- Person variables refer to the knowledge or awareness about our strengths and weaknesses in learning and our ability to process information. It refers to being aware of any new information’s learning and processing capabilities.
- Strategy variables are the various strategies that we choose to apply to accomplish a task. It includes all the resources that we deploy or set out to acquire before embarking on a challenge. It is about the strategies available to someone to approach problems differently.
- Task variables are all the knowledge we readily possess about the nature of a particular task and the requirements to perform the job. Thus, it is about what someone already knows about a specific task and the requirements to perform this task.
Metacognition and Learning styles
- A visual learner learns best through visual aids such as graphs, images, videos, and other graphic renditions. They are usually very good at identifying patterns and matching colors.
- An auditory learner learns best by listening rather than by watching or reading. Examples include stories, anecdotes, lectures, and listening to podcasts.
- A kinaesthetic learner learns best when there is movement involved. These people like to learn by doing things instead of reading or listening. They are active rather than passive people.
- A logical learner, usually good with mathematics, uses reasoning to find answers. However, they are generally good with numbers and can have difficulties grasping subjective issues.
- Interpersonal learners learn best through social interaction and with other people. They are enthusiastic about group work and usually exhibit high emotional intelligence.
- Intra-personal learners like to learn things through quiet reflection and in-depth pondering. Unlike interpersonal learners, they prefer to be alone when trying to understand something.
A summary of metacognition
Metacognition quite literally means being aware of one’s consciousness. There is a distinction that is made between metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation. Metacognitive knowledge deals with aspects of everything that people know about their individual cognitive processes. On the other hand, metacognitive regulation refers to managing and enhancing our mental processes to strengthen our learning capabilities.
Metacognitive regulation has three distinct components.
- The concept of planning refers to allocating the right resources and selecting the right strategies for solving a problem.
- The concept of monitoring involves being aware of one’s understanding and task performance.
- And the concept of evaluation refers to assessing the final product and the process before the finished product.