MetaCognition for MetaPerformance

For my topic, I will be covering metacognition, which is a fancy word for a simple concept. Metacognition is thinking about thinking, or, more broadly, thinking about any cognitive process, such as memory or learning. So, for instance, on my way to work, having a mental debate of whether I locked the door is an irritating exemplar of metacognition (…“I remember locking the door, but is that only because I thought of locking the door … or, maybe I’m just remembering when I locked the door yesterday”…). Other examples include questioning whether we are prepared for an exam or questioning whether our political theories are sound. As one might guess, this topic is relevant to learning. I’m not too familiar with the research, but there are findings that note that metacognition is a significant predictor of achievement, even when controlling for various demographic variables, such as gender and socioeconomic status. The course could easily be applied to the teacher’s role, but I’ll be orienting it to the student’s perspective, as I’ll be putting this video on my teaching portfolio (or, maybe more realistically, I’ll be posting a second edition of this video on my teaching portfolio, after getting feedback on the course from the class). This way, my prospective employers can get a glimpse into how I lecture to undergraduate students, despite trying to limit my lecture time in future classes.

Content Description

For the course, I want to focus on two main issues: 1) what is metacognition, and 2) how metacognition relates to learning. I do want to spend some time defining metacognition, as it is not a term frequently heard in everyday life – unless you are a psychology nerd. But, I want to spend most of the time discussing how metacognition can be used to help students, specifically in their education. (Although I would love to spend some time discussing how metacognition can be used to help out in other arenas [e.g., interpersonal relationships], I thought this lens would be the most helpful).

Instructional Strategy*

For the course, I’m planning on creating a video that appears somewhat similar to those produced by DNews. I’ve always appreciated their excitement for learning, so I hope to mirror that for my course. So, in that spirit, I’m planning on interspersing me speaking to the screen (to show my lecture style) with funny pictures (to keep students engaged) and written text (to allow for different learning styles). During my course, I’ll try my best to include real life examples, presented through explanations and activities, to make the content meaningful for each student. And, at the end of the course, I’ll provide prompts and readings for students to take the content one step further.

Student Learning Objectives**

Through this course, the following are set as goals for each student.

Gain psychological knowledge:

  • Students will be able to explain the concept of metacognition, as shown by being able to recall the definition of metacognition and identify common examples of metacognition in everyday life.
  • Students will be able to discuss how metacognition can be used to boost learning.

Improve life skills:

  • Students will improve existing learning strategies by trying suggested metacognitive techniques.
  • Students will take command of their own learning by designing and implementing their own metacognitive techniques.

* I heard about a new kind of video software (i.e., Camtasia) through a conference I attended. So, although these are my hopes for the video, it may or may not pan out, depending on the features available.

** This is a new method of designing student learning objectives that I want to try, as inspired by Bain’s (2004) emphasis on teaching the whole student, regardless of specific discipline. I would love to know what you guys think.

7 thoughts on “MetaCognition for MetaPerformance

  1. I am excited to see your lesson on Metacognition! The first time I heard about it was at the last institution I worked for as they had a Metacognition Lab. I worked closely with the director because I was fascinated with thinking about thinking. I sent my students there as part of their grade. The ones who used the lab had great improvement. The faculty attended workshops, and the director gave us updates on the progress of the students they serviced. The statistics on the improvement of the students’ grades who utilized the concepts from the lab were outstanding. I look forward to your thoughts on the subject.


  2. Tess,

    Camtasia is similar in many ways to iMovie or Final Cut if you’ve used either of those video editing software. It also has screen capture capabilities. I know you can get a free trial, but I think it only lasts for 30 days before you have to pay to continue using it. There may also be video editing software available on campus computers, too.

    I haven’t heard of DNews before. Could you perhaps provide a link (or hyperlink their name in your post) to a video as an example?

    I’m looking forward to your module. Metacognition sounds fascinating. The locking the door thing I totally relate to, too. (On that topic, I’ve read somewhere that if you do something silly, like a bust a move, or otherwise memorable after locking your door, it improves your ability to recall the event because now there’s something unique about that specific time locking your door to make it stand apart from every other time you’ve locked your door.)


  3. Hi Tess! Meta cognition has always been one of my favorite teaching tools for a while! I’m excited to see your presentation and to learn about some new online teaching software. I’m also curious to see how you will assess our understanding and application of the outcomes for this module.


  4. Metacognition and metacognitive strategies are hot topics in the language classroom! They make such a difference for students and in student performance. One of my colleagues is doing her dissertation on metacognitive strategies to enhance pronunciation skills in Spanish. I’m looking forward to your module. I’ve never used DNews or Camtasia, so I’m interested to see how they work!


  5. Hi Tess,
    Metacognition is one of those topics that is absolutely critical for student success and is absolutely not taught to students directly (usually anyway). I am looking forward to your video and seeing what you do with the topic.


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