5.1 Metacognition

We know that one key for effective learning is what researchers call metacognition, which refers to our ability to understand our own knowledge levels and learning abilities. The more self-aware students are about their learning, the more they can monitor and improve their learning in any subject.

So, as much as possible, you should seek out opportunities to invite students to identify what they understand or do not understand, or where they are strong and where they need improvement.

Cognitive psychologist Stephen L. Chew has created a series of videos for students on the importance of metacognition to their learning. The videos summarize the key research in this area in ways that are accessible to both teachers and students, and can be found here [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

You can insert small opportunities for these kinds of conversations throughout many of the recommended activities. Several of the E4J Modules recommend having students engage in debates or role plays surrounding ethical issues. Activities like this can always be followed by the opportunity for students to debrief and reflect upon the experience. This can be done in the form of discussions or writing activities.

You can also consider pausing during role plays or simulations and giving students the opportunity to articulate their current state of understanding; once they have done so, you can then return them to the activity. Activities like role plays, simulations, and debates will be much more effective learning experiences if the students take the time to reflect upon the experience and to articulate explicitly what they learned from them.

Fluency illusions

Learning researchers tell us that most of us have “fluency illusions” in our understanding of any given topic. In other words, we tend to assume we know more than we actually do. These fluency illusions can de-motivate students (and their teachers) from learning something new, since we believe we have already mastered it.

Unit 5: Becoming self-aware

5.2 Self-reflection and analysis