How to make Thinking Tools work for you: Metacognition

How to make Thinking Tools work for you: Metacognition

Metacognitive skills help individuals process and retain information through self-recognition and reflection. By researching the types of metacognitive skills and how to improve your own, you can start trying to learn and retain information in a more effective way.

What are metacognitive skills?

Metacognitive skills allow you to organize and evaluate your thought process related to learning and problem-solving. Another way to define metacognitive skills is your self-awareness regarding the information you do and don’t know and how you work to recall or retain knowledge regarding a particular subject.

Metacognitive skills typically start developing during childhood and allow individuals to learn different school subjects. These skills continue to grow and evolve throughout the teenage years and into adulthood as individuals move from educational to professional settings.

Metacognitive skills typically fit into three distinct categories of the learning process:

1 Planning: The first phase of metacognition, the planning phase, asks individuals to question what they want to learn, what existing knowledge they can use to help them learn, what they need to focus on to learn and what period they must achieve comprehension.

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2 Monitoring: The monitoring phase occurs throughout the learning process. During this phase, individuals ask questions relating to how well they are retaining information, whether to slow or quicken the pace at which they learn depending on the subject’s difficulty and whether they need to seek additional guidance to help them learn.

3 Evaluation: The evaluation phase is the final phase during the metacognitive process. During this phase, individuals evaluate their ability to learn during the monitoring phase. They question whether what they learned could help them in other areas, determine weak areas where they need to complete additional work and reflect on what they should have done differently to maximize their learning experience.


Examples of metacognitive skills

Metacognitive skills encompass a wide variety of traits that allow individuals to learn, identify tasks, address challenges, and evaluate their success. Here are a few examples of metacognitive skills:

Task orientation is how an individual can identify their responsibilities and focus on a task to help achieve an overarching goal or project.

Goal setting is an individual’s ability to create actionable goals to achieve within a given period. This trait is especially important for those looking to improve their metacognitive skills. Setting goals encourages people to think ahead and create objectives to focus on before, during and after learning experiences.

Discover more: Metamemory Edition 1

Planning and organisation an help you determine what you need to learn and the methods you need to learn effectively. Your planning and organization skills allow you to create a solid foundation for learning and retaining information.

Problem-solving is a metacognitive skill because individuals need to be able to review potential issues with their learning environment, information recall abilities and knowledge of a particular subject. After determining what they need to improve, they use problem-solving skills to develop solutions like changing their learning environment, trying memory recall tactics and completing extra work on a particular subject.

Self-evaluation is an important skill to have within the metacognitive process. It allows you to look back on your experience learning or completing a task. It also helps you determine your ability to stay focused. Self-evaluation helps you cultivate a stronger sense of your strengths and weaknesses when learning.

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Self-correction is considered a metacognitive skill because it causes you to reflect on your learning abilities and determine potential errors or areas of improvement. This ensures that you remember what you need to work on and remain mindful of necessary corrections in future situations.

Reading comprehension refers to the process by which you  can read and interpret a text’s meaning. Your ability to read and interpret written text is considered part of the metacognitive process because you evaluate your ability to comprehend meanings as you read.

Concentration is considered a metacognitive skill because you need to be able to focus on your current task. However, concentration is also important for evaluating your ability to learn and retain information.


How to improve metacognitive skills

You can use various methods to maximize your ability to learn and retain information for future use. Here are a few keyways to improve your metacognitive skills to aid your educational experiences and professional development:

  1. Confirm your learning style

To determine how to improve your metacognitive skills, you first need to understand how you learn most effectively. Understanding your learning style allows you to adjust your learning environment, the methods you use to learn and the way you monitor your progress. You can have one or a combination of multiple learning styles that work for you. Here are the different learning styles you can have:

  • Visual learner
  • Verbal learner
  • Kinesthetic learner
  • Aural learner
  • Mathematical learner
  • Solitary learner
  • Social learner
  1. Practice finding deeper meanings in reading materials

Another way to improve your metacognitive skills and enhance your self-awareness is by taking the time to read books, articles or poetry. While you read, you can make notes or annotations. After you finish reading, challenge yourself to develop a few possible meanings for the text, and determine your reasoning for each meaning before moving on to the next passage. This analysis allows you to enhance your ability to extract meanings from written text and evaluate your methods for reaching a conclusion.

  1. Connect tasks with a larger goal

An important part of metacognitive learning is understanding the role of a specific task in completing a larger goal. For example, by completing extra practice assignments for your college class and reviewing your work with a tutor, you give yourself the best chance at learning the material.

  1. Write plans before starting tasks

By creating a list of steps for achieving a specific task, you participate in the planning phase of the metacognitive process. This step is important because it allows you to identify where you need to devote the most focus during the process.

  1. Make sure you have the right environment to learn in

Everyone learns differently. Some people enjoy learning with others, while others enjoy working alone. Similarly, some people enjoy listening to music as they learn, whereas others need absolute silence. By creating your ideal learning environment, you can retain information more effectively and take the time to analyze your metacognitive abilities.

  1. Create a self-evaluation document

The last phase of the metacognitive process is evaluation. You can create a self-evaluation document or use a template to accurately determine the success of your learning experience and how to improve your experience for the future.