Metacognitive strategies are very effective at improving learning performance. Building metacognitive awareness begins with an understanding of cognition . Learners who understand how the brain forms memories and how learning works have a better foundation for metacognitive awareness.
Another important prerequisite for metacognition is knowledge of effective learning strategies . Effective learners have a toolbox of strategies that they can use for various learning tasks. Gregory Schraw GS Gregory Schraw recommends using a Strategy Evaluation Matrix to compare different learning strategies. The matrix outlines why, how, and when to use each strategy.
Armed with the knowledge of cognition, learners can foster metacognitive awareness through a deliberate approach to the learning process. Before beginning a learning activity, effective learners take time to plan. They set goals , allocate time, and select appropriate learning strategies. During learning, they continually check their comprehension through self-questioning and self-testing. They may also assess the appropriateness of the strategies they are using.
Learning should be followed by the critical activity of reflection. Reflection is defined as an activity in which learners replay the learning process, address the emotions they felt during the experience, and evaluate performance relative to the goals set before beginning the process. According to David Boud DB David Boud and co-authors, bringing the experience into consciousness allows individuals to process it and adapt.
Reflection can be aided by asking questions. The Metacognitive Awareness Inventory is a 52-question assessment to evaluate different aspects of metacognition. Self-directed learners can use it as inspiration for reflection.
Teachers can encourage metacognition by creating an environment where metacognition is encouraged. They can model metacognitive behavior by demonstratively checking their work and correcting mistakes. There are many other metacognitive strategies that they can use, such as:
- Using pre-assessments to determine what students already know, identify knowledge gaps, and make it easier to demonstrate progress.
- Teaching cognitive strategies and encouraging their use
- Using think aloud while solving a problem – this is a highly effective and efficient way to help students consciously monitor how they are learning.
- Allot time for reflection, despite the many pressures to use the time for something else. Taking time to evaluate is a critical part of metacognition.