Think About Thinking

Ever know someone who was a really bad driver but thought they were especially good? Their perceived competence was high but actual performance was low. This could be a result of poor metacognitive skills (i.e. awareness of one’s own thought processes) as discussed in this Tedx Talk. The same concept holds true for some students in the classroom. Those who feel confident about their understanding, but do poorly on exams, may lack awareness of their own true knowledge or skill. That inability to accurately judge their own competence can affect how much they study. Students with poor metacognition will often shorten their study time prematurely, thinking they have mastered course material when, in fact, their learning may actually be fragmented or inaccurate. As we prepare students for lifelong learning by developing their critical thinking, creative thinking, and interdisciplinary thinking, we should also weave metacognitive thinking throughout our curricula. Below are eight ways to integrate metacognition in your courses.

  • Use formative assessments throughout the semester (i.e. short, low-stakes assessments). Clickers are a great way to accomplish this and TLP can help you get set up.
  • Implement Exam Wrappers.
  • Use the active learning strategy “think-pair-share” so students can reflect on their own learning before sharing in a group.
  • Have students create a practice exam and then answer their questions as a homework assignment. Then, ask them for a judgement of their confidence in their understanding of the material.
  • Ask students to reflect on the strategies they’ve used in the past to learn. Were they effective? Could they be improved?
  • Assign a 60-second in-class writing where students reflect on a prompt about their learning from the homework.
  • Assign students to generate two questions from the assigned reading and think about them throughout class.
  • And perhaps most importantly, role-model your own metacognitive practices

 

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