I posted a bit about wisdom last week, and this week’s post focuses on reflection – metacognition. Confucius quoted that, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching cites a variety of research concluding that “metacognitive practices increase students’ abilities to transfer or adapt their learning to new contexts and tasks. They do this by gaining a level of awareness above the subject matter: they also think about the tasks and contexts of different learning situations and themselves as learners in these different contexts.” In short, reflection for learners, at any age, is a highly effective tool for learning.
How do we provide ourselves and our students metacognitive moments? A tweet from TeachThought, referencing Exit Slips, listed 8 Reflective Questions to Help Any Student Think about Their Learning.
- What surprised you today, and why?
- What’s the most important thing you learned today? Why do you think so?
- What do you want to learn more about, and why?
- When were you the most creative, and why do you think that is?
- What made you curious today? How does learning feel different when you’re curious?
- When were you at your best today, and why?
- (Assuming we were studying the same thing and you could decide and have access to anything), where would you start tomorrow? Why?
- What can/should you do with what you know?
As educators, is easy for us to pose reflective questions like the ones above, but how do we help students make metacognition a habit. Metacognition: The Gift that Keeps Giving from Edutopia shares specific details on how to teach students to be more metacognitive.
- Define the term metacognition.
- Ask students to describe the benefits and supply examples of driving their brains well.
- Look for opportunities to discuss and apply metacognition across core subjects…
- Model metacognition by talking through problems.
Dr. Derek Cabrera is an internationally recognized expert in metacognition (thinking about thinking), epistemology (the study of knowledge), human and organizational learning, and education. Check out his TedTalk below on “How Thinking Works.”
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