Metacognition: Knowing Your Knowing - TechNode#
The metalevel is where "knowing about knowing" occurs. At this level, metacognitive strategies are used to ensure that we achieve our goals. ⤴️ ^d29cf459
Knowing about our own knowledge to ensure that we achieve our goals, rather than just going through the motions.
Still using the example of reading, in order to understand the meaning conveyed by the text (the cognitive goal), we will consider our level of understanding of the paragraph we just read (cognitive monitoring).
If we are satisfied with our level of understanding, we will continue reading; if not, we may reread the paragraph, use a dictionary to help us understand, or seek help from others. These behaviors are called control processes.
Control processes are based on the previous understanding of the reading paragraph (cognitive monitoring) to regulate/change our cognitive processes or related behaviors.
This is metacognition. ⤴️ ^3bc67a80
Here we can see that metacognition is generated in order to achieve our goals. It monitors the process and the actual level, similar to OKRs rather than KPIs, and is a recognition of the degree of completion of things.
- All our learning, thinking, and other cognitive activities;
- Reflection and critical awareness of ourselves as learners or thinkers. ⤴️ ^ac5956ba
- Metacognitive knowledge
- Metacognitive experience
- Goals or tasks
- Actions or strategies ⤴️ ^b74d24ec
The value of metacognition lies in guiding us to choose, evaluate, modify, and abandon cognitive activities based on the relationship between cognitive tasks, goals, and strategies, as well as our own abilities and interests. ⤴️ ^5b6d17da
In other words, the focus is not on "what am I learning or what am I doing," but on "how well am I learning or how well am I doing." ⤴️ ^400af478
This is the important point.
After encountering metacognition, I realized that metacognition might be a powerful tool. With metacognition, you can try your best and turn a bicycle 🚴♀️ into a motorcycle 🏍️.
Without metacognition, the result may be that we spend a lot of time preparing for exams, but the results are not satisfactory; or we start learning economics with great enthusiasm, but give up after reading "Employment, Interest, and Money" for two days...
With metacognition, the result may be different.
The following is an integration of metacognition and my own understanding. The full text is about 2500 words. If you only want to know how to apply metacognition to work and learning, you can skip to the end to see the case study and guide~.
Metacognition, in English, is metacognition.
Meta, derived from Greek, means "after" or "beyond." It is usually used in conjunction with the name of a discipline to indicate a new discipline that is related to the original discipline and aims to critically study the original discipline.
Therefore, metacognition is "knowing about knowing," it is thinking about thinking.
In Flavell's 1976 article, the definition of metacognition is as follows:
"In any cognitive transaction with the human or non-human environment, various information processing activities may continue. Metacognition refers to a person's knowledge and awareness of their own cognitive processes, cognitive objects, or anything related to cognitive results. It refers to the active monitoring and regulation and arrangement of these processes, usually serving some specific goals or purposes."
Does it sound complicated? But we can use the model proposed by scholars to understand what metacognition is.
The metacognition model consists of two levels: the object level and the meta level.
The object level is where cognitive processes occur.
For example, when we read a text (the object of cognition), we decode the text during reading (cognitive strategy) to understand the meaning conveyed by the text (cognitive goal). This is cognition.
==The meta level is where "knowing about knowing" occurs. At this level, metacognitive strategies are used to ensure that we achieve our goals.==
Nelson & Narens's Model of Metacognition
==Still using the example of reading, in order to understand the meaning conveyed by the text (cognitive goal), we will consider our level of understanding of the paragraph we just read (cognitive monitoring).==
==If we are satisfied with our level of understanding, we will continue reading; if not, we may reread the paragraph, use a dictionary to help us understand, or seek help from others. These behaviors are called control processes.==
==Control processes are based on the previous understanding of the reading paragraph (cognitive monitoring) to regulate/change our cognitive processes or related behaviors.==
==This is metacognition.==
It can be seen that metacognition includes two parts:
- ==All our learning, thinking, and other cognitive activities;==
- ==Reflection and critical awareness of ourselves as learners or thinkers.==
How Metacognition Works#
Flavell believed in his 1976 article that the regulation of cognition involves four interacting phenomena, including:
- ==Metacognitive knowledge==
- ==Metacognitive experience==
- ==Goals or tasks==
- ==Actions or strategies==
Metacognitive knowledge includes our knowledge of people, understanding, and strategies as learners or thinkers.
First, knowledge of people#
Knowledge of people includes knowledge about ourselves and others, knowledge of individual and universal attributes:
I believe that reading this text can help me learn better than listening to it. This is an internal difference about ourselves as cognitive processors.
I am more social than my friend. This is an individual difference between ourselves and others as cognitive processors.
Both my friend and I can learn to communicate, but to different degrees. This is a belief about the universal attributes of ourselves and others as cognitive processors.
Second, knowledge of goals or tasks#
Regarding tasks (or goals), metacognitive knowledge includes knowledge about the information available for the task and knowledge about the task requirements or the task itself;
What information do I need to complete the task, and how can this information regulate and arrange my cognition? And what does the information I have obtained mean for achieving the goal? These are our knowledge about the information available for completing the task, such as the text I am currently reading is not enough to make confident judgments about the true situation.
We also know that even with the same information, some cognitive tasks have higher and more difficult requirements than others, such as recalling the key points of this text is easier than recalling the exact wording and description of this text. This is our knowledge about the task requirements or goals.
Finally, knowledge of strategies or actions#
We may believe that a good way to learn a lot of information is to repeat these key points to ourselves or others in our own words.
In this cognitive activity (learning a lot of information), we have knowledge of what kind of strategy (repeating these key points in our own words) may effectively achieve what kind of sub-goal or goal, including our knowledge of different strategies and when to use these strategies.
I understand metacognitive experience as all experiential feelings or cognitions when applying metacognition.
When I feel that I am not familiar enough with the text I am reading (metacognitive experience):
I will give up the test tomorrow (guiding us to establish, modify, or abandon goals).
I will read this text again (cognitive strategy, aiming to achieve cognitive goal-improve my cognition), hoping to pass the test tomorrow.
I try to ask myself some questions about this text and pay attention to how I answer these questions to understand my level of understanding of this text (metacognitive strategy, aiming to achieve metacognitive goal-evaluate my cognition).
From this, it can be seen that metacognitive experience can not only guide us to establish, modify, or abandon old goals but also achieve our cognitive goals and metacognitive goals.
The Value of Metacognition & How to Use It#
The value of metacognition lies in guiding us to choose, evaluate, modify, and abandon cognitive activities based on the relationship between cognitive tasks, goals, and strategies, as well as our own abilities and interests.
In other words, the focus is not on "what am I learning or what am I doing," but on "how well am I learning or how well am I doing."
Teacher Wu Zhihong's article "How to Achieve the Dream of Peking University in a Year" is a very good example of applying metacognition.
After not performing well in the exam (the goal is to get a good score), she calmed down and analyzed the situation, and reached a conclusion (already mastered the knowledge), which is self-awareness. Then she paused learning the knowledge and studied exam methods (adjusting learning strategies).
While studying exam methods, she recorded how to take exams in a diary and tested herself with simulated questions, changing methods immediately if she felt they were not right (adjusting exam methods), until she achieved the goal of "finding the exam method that suits her."
Finally, she achieved the ultimate goal of "getting a good score" and realized her dream of Peking University.
When implemented in specific actionable steps, it can be:
Evaluate your tasks or goals#
When facing task X or goal X, how should I do it, using strategy A (instead of strategy B);
What information have I obtained for completing the task, and how can this information regulate and arrange my cognition, and what does the obtained information mean for achieving the goal?
When facing a task, what advantages can I bring into play? What challenges do I find difficult? What confuses me?
After the evaluation, we will have a rough idea or plan on how to complete task X (goal X). Next, it is to put the idea into practice or execute the plan and monitor and adjust during the execution.
How learning works: metacognition cycle
Monitoring and Adjusting#
How well did my task go using strategy A? What else needs to be done?
Do I need to change strategy A to strategy B or strategy C?
What does the information I have obtained mean for completing the task, and what else needs to be focused on or supplemented?
The above are what we need to constantly pay attention to and make adjustments when completing tasks or achieving goals.
In addition, we can also give ourselves a pat on the back and summarize how we completed the task or learned the knowledge~
For example, before completing the task, what did I think this task was like and what am I doing now?
Did I complete the task? How well did I do?
How has my cognition changed? Or which cognitions have remained unchanged?
With metacognition, you can try your best and turn a bicycle 🚴♀️ into a motorcycle 🏍️.
1. Cambridge Assessment International Education:https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/Images/272307-metacognition.pdf
2. Thinking about One’s Thinking: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/metacognition/
3. Five ways to boost metacognition in the classroom:https://spencerauthor.com/metacognition/
4. John H. Flavell. Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry