Why develop metacognition?
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Why develop metacognition? book
In Chapter 1 I suggested that developing metacognition is important for life as a whole and not only for academic success. However, in a highly literate culture, where academic qualifi cations are necessary for simply opening the doors of life’s opportunities, academic attainment is important. From the earliest research in this area the link was made between learning and metacognition. For Brown (1987) the purpose of metacognition is in directing and controlling learning. In this early framework it was thought that metacognition would only be possible in later childhood. Even so the effect of the regulatory and controlling mechanism of metacognition on cognition is an important concept for educationalists and psychologists. There are many diffi culties in trying to study this link between cognition and metacognition. Theorists have argued about the extent to which metacognition can, in fact, be separated from cognition. For instance when we solve a maths problem we are using cognitive strategies; only when we begin to think about how we are thinking about the maths problem or begin to consider how well we are doing, are we engaging metacognitive processes. While in theoretical models there may be a clear distinction between these types of thinking, in practice we move backwards and forwards between metacognitive and cognitive processes and sometimes these moves are rapid. At one level we can say that we are engaging in metacognition when we are stopped in our tracks by a lack of comprehension, a sudden feeling that something doesn’t make sense, however this may be a fl eeting experience and if we ignore it, not one that will necessarily improve our performance. At another level we may make a very conscious and strategic decision to plan how we are going to tackle the problem and to draw on our past experience of similar problems. In this case we would be engaging in a much more sustained period of metacognition, which is likely to impact on our performance and to increase our own knowledge about ourselves as thinkers.