Strategies for Reflecting on Learning Processes
Metacognition, or "thinking about how a person thinks," is one of the most important tools for lifelong learning. People versed in metacognition understand the power of asking themselves “why” and seeking answers to that question in a multitude of scenarios. These people are the epitome of life-long learners, and one goal of many schools is to produce life-long learners. Thus, student metacognition, or a student’s ability to analyze his or her own learning and progress, is becoming increasingly important in many schools. This week, we offer tips in encouraging student learning through metacognition.
This Week's Tips
Recognize the Characteristics of Metacognition (Monday)
Learn to recognize students who engage in and regularly use metacognitive strategies. Typically, such students are curious about what they are expected to learn. They also tend to make accurate assessments of why they succeed in achieving learning goals. These students think about failure and the breakdown in their learning process and can verbalize what they need to do differently. Students who have internalized metacognitive strategies seek different ways of learning and understanding, and they take time to think about what they think and why. From an early age, these students see themselves as learners.
Teach the Components of Metacognition (Tuesday)
Teach students the components of metacognition. Metacognition involves before, during, and after learning activities that require reflection. Teach students to ask, “what am I supposed to learn” early in the process, “how am I doing” during the process, and “what have I learned” after the process. Model application of these questions frequently and build time for students to ask and answer such questions into your lesson plans.
Deepen Student Reflection through Questioning (Wednesday)
Deepen student reflection by posing relevant questions at critical points in the learning process. Integrate reflective questions into your lessons rather than breaking them out into a separate activity. While students may be conditioned to ask specific questions before, during, and after learning, when you create questions specific to the content and/or skills learned, you foster reflection and metacognition.
Structure Metacognition Activities to Match Learning Purposes (Thursday)
Structure metacognition strategies to match learning purposes. If students recently learned a process, encourage reflection about how they might use that process in other classes or in real-life situations. If you are preparing to introduce a new unit, begin by asking students to reflect on the background knowledge they already possess about the topic. Note how that information can help them learn the new content.
Use Portfolio Strategies to Foster Metacognition (Friday)
Integrate techniques used in portfolio assessment to encourage reflection. While you may not complete an entire portfolio for assessment, consider incorporating reflection into projects completed in phases. Ask students to select two phases of their work to reflect on. Effective cognition strategies are placed appropriately in instruction so that students are confident of their learning.