Metacognition is a term that’s been thrown around a lot lately, but what is metacognition?
Metacognition is the process of thinking about one’s thinking. It involves being aware of one’s cognitive processes and controlling and adjusting them to achieve better learning outcomes.
However, many people are not aware of what metacognition is or how to improve it. In this blog post, we will explore the definition of metacognition and provide 7 ways to improve it.
I will also discuss some of the things that can get in the way of improving your metacognition and provide a helpful table to distinguish between metacognition and working memory.
Lastly, I will provide an executive function assessment to check your metacognition score. By the end of this post, you’ll clearly understand what metacognition is and how to improve it.
Metacognition is a concept that has been explored by various scholars over the years. Here are some notable quotes and their definitions of metacognition from various sources:
“Thinking about thinking” – John Flavell
John Flavell, a prominent developmental psychologist, coined the term “metacognition” and defined it as “thinking about thinking.” He believed that metacognition is the ability to recognize and understand one’s thought processes, which in turn can help someone improve their learning and problem-solving skills.
“Knowing about knowing” – Donald Schon
Donald Schon, a philosopher and educator, defined metacognition as “knowing about knowing.” According to Schon, metacognition involves an understanding of one’s own thought processes as well as the ability to reflect on and evaluate those processes. He believed that metacognition is a crucial component of individual learning and professional development.
“The awareness of one’s own cognitive abilities” – Carl S. Dweck
Carl S. Dweck, a renowned psychologist, defined metacognition as “the awareness of one’s own cognitive abilities.” According to Dweck, metacognition involves the ability to monitor and regulate one’s own thinking, which can help someone become a more effective learner and problem-solver.
Overall, metacognition is a multifaceted concept that encompasses various aspects of thinking about thinking. By understanding and utilizing metacognitive strategies, individuals can enhance their learning and cognitive abilities.
7 Ways to Improve Metacognition
One fascinating area of metacognition research is the study of “metamemory.” This is the ability to assess your own memory and recall ability. By understanding your own strengths and weaknesses in this area, you can develop better memory strategies and improve your overall learning.
Another area of interest is “metacomprehension,” or the ability to assess your own understanding of a topic. By being aware of what you know and what you don’t know, you can better focus your learning efforts and fill in any knowledge gaps.
In a way, metacognition allows us to reflect on our own thinking and make improvements where necessary. So, next time you’re stuck on a problem or struggling to remember something, take a moment to think about how you’re thinking.
When you’re able to improve your metacognition skills you gain the ability to improve decision-making, problem-solving, and learning outcomes.
Here are 7 ways to improve your metacognition:
1. Set Goals
Setting goals helps you to focus your attention and direct your thinking towards achieving a specific outcome. This can help you to understand your own thinking processes better, as you reflect on what you did to achieve your goal and what worked well or didn’t work so well.
2. Ask Questions
Asking questions is a key part of metacognition. By asking questions, you can clarify your own thinking and gain a better understanding of the concepts you are learning. Ask yourself questions like “What do I already know about this?” and “What do I need to learn to understand this better?”
3. Monitor Your Learning
Monitoring your learning involves being aware of your progress and understanding of a topic. You can do this by regularly checking in with yourself and assessing your level of understanding or by using tools like quizzes or self-assessments.
4. Reflect on Your Learning
Reflection is a powerful tool for improving metacognition. By reflecting on what you have learned, you can identify what worked well and what didn’t, and make changes to your learning strategies accordingly. Try asking yourself questions like “What did I learn?” and “What could I improve on next time?” When I have coached clients, I have noticed that many don’t always reflect and find this easy but powerful tool helps them to regulate their emotions and also improve their confidence (because they can appreciate and then replicate their wins).
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings. By practising mindfulness, you can become more aware of your own thinking processes and better understand how your thoughts and emotions are impacting your learning.
6. Use Metacognitive Strategies
You can use many metacognitive strategies to improve your thinking skills, the best way is to identify your metacognitive profile, so you can use the strategy that best works for you. Using these strategies, you can better understand the concepts you are learning.
Further reading: How to Unlock Your Brains Potential: A Guide to Metacognitive Strategies
7. Seek Feedback
Getting feedback from others is an important part of improving metacognition. By seeking feedback, you can get a different perspective on your thinking processes and identify areas where you need to improve. Try asking for feedback from your peers, your teacher, or a mentor.
Things that get in the way of improving your metacognition
Metacognition is the ability to think about your thinking. It is essential in learning and problem-solving. However, improving your metacognition is not always easy. There are several things that can get in the way of developing this skill. Here are some of them:
1. Lack of awareness
If you are not aware of your thinking process, it can be difficult to improve it. You need to be mindful of your thoughts and actions to develop your metacognitive skills. Pay attention to how you approach problems and ask yourself if there may be a better way to tackle them.
2. Fixed mindset
Having a fixed mindset can also hinder your metacognitive development. If you believe that your abilities are fixed and cannot be improved, you may not be motivated to learn new strategies. Instead, try to adopt a growth mindset and embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
3. Lack of reflection
Reflection is a crucial aspect of metacognition. If you don’t take the time to reflect on your learning and problem-solving experiences, you may miss opportunities to identify areas for improvement. Set aside time to reflect on your successes and failures, and think about what you could do differently next time.
Distractions can also interfere with your metacognitive development. When your mind is constantly jumping from one task to another, it can be challenging to focus on your thinking process. Try to eliminate distractions and create a conducive environment for learning and problem-solving.
5. Fear of failure
Fear of failure can also hinder your metacognitive development. If you are afraid of making mistakes, you may be less likely to take risks and try new strategies. Remember that failure is a natural part of the learning process. Embrace your mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve.
6. Lack of guidance
Finally, a lack of guidance can also get in the way of improving your metacognition. If you don’t have someone to guide you and provide feedback, it can be challenging to identify areas for improvement. Consider finding a mentor or coach who can help you develop your metacognitive skills (hint…I may be the one).
Improving your metacognition is not always easy, but it is essential for learning and problem-solving. By being mindful of the things that can get in the way, you can take steps to overcome them and develop your metacognitive skills.
Is it Metacognition or Working Memory?
When it comes to learning, both metacognition and working memory play crucial roles. However, they are not the same thing. It’s important to understand the difference between the two to improve your learning and thinking skills. Here’s a table to help you differentiate between metacognition and working memory:
|Retrieving and using the information in real-time
|Short-term memory storage
|Reflecting on your own thought processes
|Maintaining information for a brief period of time
|Regulating and controlling your own cognitive processes
|Manipulating and processing information that you’re currently using
|Strategizing, planning and monitoring your own learning
|Retrieving and using information in real-time
In summary, metacognition refers to our ability to think about our own thinking, while working memory is our ability to hold information in our minds for brief periods of time. Both of these cognitive processes are essential for learning and problem-solving. By understanding the differences between the two, you can work on improving your own metacognitive and working memory skills to become a better learner and thinker.
The Executive Function Assessment: How to Evaluate Your Metacognition
Have you ever wondered about your ability to plan, prioritise, and manage your time? Do you struggle with staying focused and avoiding distractions? If so, you may want to consider taking the Executive Function Assessment to gain insight into your metacognition abilities.
Metacognition, or the ability to think about one’s own thinking, is a crucial aspect of executive functioning. It involves being aware of your cognitive processes and regulating them effectively. By taking this assessment, you can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in various areas of executive functioning, such as working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition control.
The assessment results can provide valuable information about your metacognition score and how you can improve your executive functioning skills. So, what are you waiting for? Take the Executive Function Assessment today and better understand your cognitive abilities. With this knowledge, you can improve your metacognition and achieve greater success in your personal and professional life.
What is Metacognition & How to Improve It Conclusion
Improving your metacognition is a vital skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life. You can significantly enhance your metacognitive abilities by following the seven simple ways mentioned in this article.
However, it is essential to identify the barriers that hinder your progress and work to overcome them. The table can help you differentiate between metacognition and working memory, enabling you to understand the concept better. Don’t forget to take the executive function assessment to evaluate your metacognition score.
Regular assessments and practice (hint: we practice a ton in my program Executive Function Playbook) can help you improve your metacognition over time. Remember, the more you understand and implement metacognitive strategies, the more effective and efficient you will become in your daily life. So, start incorporating these techniques, practice regularly, and watch yourself become a better problem-solver, learner, and thinker.