Students who soar high and get successful often rely on independent and effective thinking. These are the students who have mastered the fundamental skills as well as crucial skills of management. Apart from academic knowledge, skills regarding time management, organization, planning, progress monitoring and recognizing the opportunity to grow helps students to excel in studies as well as careers.
Metacognition allows students to program their brains so that they are always learning. In fact, they do not rely on their teachers to initiate tasks and learn new things. Simply stated, they do not need any spoon-feeding. Students who lack management skills often suffer from discouragement and demotivation during their course in school.
The need of metacognition:
Many teachers train students on how to wield the most powerful tool to develop brain: Metacognition. To be just and clear, metacognition is the ability to think about your thoughts to improve the learning capabilities. A metaphor that many teachers and students use, explains metacognitive strategies as a ‘tool to drive their brain’.
The fact that metacognition is a skill that can be explicitly taught to students, is the icing on the cake. Think of it as a skill like speaking or reading in which a student can be trained. Metacognition offers students to sit at the ‘driver’s seat’ and control their life. This can be backed by the fact the metacognition enables students to drive their own brain and thus, life.
A student who is encouraged to take the driver’s seat is bound to succeed due to exponential learning and implicit capacity to grasp. It also makes students independent thinker, efficient worker, and organized person. Becoming independent will allow them to steer their way towards success in school, career, and life.
Metacognition can be linked with being self-aware, optimistic, reflective and conscious of their learning path. This process of developing metacognitive skills in students is very encouraging for teachers too as they feel an extraordinary sense of happiness seeing their students thrive. Not only will these strategies help them excel at school but also supports them to reach new heights outside school.
Metacognition in the brain:
There has been much scientific research about the positive effect of metacognition on a student’s all-around development. However, it is recently that scientists are able to pinpoint the exact physical centers of metacognition in our brains.
Researchers at the University College London have recently discovered that people with metacognition have more areas of gray matter in their anterior prefrontal cortex. In addition to this, several pieces of research are going on to determine which parts of the brain contribute to metacognitive skills.
How to teach students to be more metacognitive:
1. Defining the term metacognition:
The very first step towards teaching students about metacognition is perhaps explaining them about metacognition. Guiding students by letting them understand the real meaning and motive behind metacognitive skills will form their base.
Teachers can use a simple definition of metacognition to explain the younger students-such as ‘way to drive their brain’. Educating students using elementary terms and avoiding jargon eliminates confusion. Metacognition can be thought of as a tool that enables a student to discover the best way he can learn. In other words, it is tapping into a student’s potential.
The initial stage of explaining the science of metacognition to students can also include the benefits it carries. Such as the ability to increase concentration, management skills, intelligence, and independent thinking.
Let them understand it practically:
After educating students about the basic definition of metacognition, the next step is to let them experience it practically. Perhaps, teachers can ask students to describe what they have learned. They can also provide examples in support of their statements. This will help them relate the skills personally to them.
Some inquisitive examples can be such as, sometimes we need to apply break (e.g. by reviewing a reading passage to make sure it is learned). Or accelerating it (e.g. by noting down and organizing smaller steps to complete a large task). This can be well understood by saying, ‘we need to keep our brain in the correct lane to achieve our goal (destination).’
It has been found in many studies that leveraging the interest of a student greatly increases his or her attention. Moreover, they will also try to dig deep into the topic, subject, art or chapter of their interest to satisfy their curiosities. Digging deep will help them grasp the subject matter fundamentally.
Another advantage of leveraging interest is the discovery of a specific inclination of the student. Teachers can use this tactic to identify the space, a student is attracted to. This can also boost the process of self-awareness for the student himself. In this way, not only will the student remain on his quest for learning but he will also discover his strengths or weaknesses along the way.
Being open to opportunities:
Always look for opportunities to discuss and apply metacognitive skills and strategies across core subjects. This can expand to relating these strategies with practical work or daily chores. Teachers can ask students about ‘How will their parents use these strategies in their work’ or ‘How these strategies can be applied by students themselves?’
Teachers can also implement another strategy by asking their students to apply metacognition in a variety of lessons. For younger students: in their homework, classwork or assignments. And for older students: in their jobs. Making students open to new opportunities to apply what they have just learned increases the concept retention.
Finding the solution through metacognition:
The main aim of metacognition is to elevate the power of the brain to use it effectively and constructively. Teachers can model metacognition by talking through problems. As problem-solving develops analytical skills and critical reasoning, metacognition, when coupled with them, can be used to find a solution to even the complex of problems.
Some teachers have also found that many students find it easier to learn when they listen. In fact, some teachers teach students aloud to practice higher-order thinking strategies. The students often laugh at the teacher’s ‘mistake’, but after a brief pause understands the cue and keep learning.
This strategy is very engaging and interesting because of its two-way involvement. As learning is exponential, this technique aims to apply metacognitive strategies to build an all-around learning attitude. In simple words, the more involved a student is, the more he will try to use his brain in learning.
Metacognition is all about becoming aware of the mind’s capabilities and intellectual reasoning. Students first need to understand what metacognition really stands for and how it helps wire the brain. Then, they must get practical examples of metacognitive skills in action.
Teachers can play a crucial role in this development process. This is because the identification of a student’s strengths, weakness and thought process can design the way a teacher teaches.
As with all other skills, metacognitive skills also require perfect practice. And this practice requires a good guide like a teacher who can support the student on any step. Perhaps, the most important point of these skills is to help students study better and succeed in their aim. That’s why it is crucial to keep these activities fun-filled, practical and easy-to-understand.