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Self-awareness and metacognition

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on August 16, 2007 at 12:31:22 pm
Stephen Covey 8th Habit of Highly Effective People
As Ron Barnett puts it, supercomplexity demands that we become beings for complexity. We cannot become such beings without developing self-awareness and capability to think about the way we think and act and the effects our actions have on the world around us. Learning about learning enhances our ability to see how to perform, and to actually perform in this crazy, uncertain and challenging world.
Metacognition and metalearning are terms associated with the idea of self-awareness. Metacognition is higher order thinking to actively control the cognitive processes engaged in thinking and acquiring knowing or learning (Flavell 1979). Knowledge is considered to be metacognitive (rather than cognitive) if it is actively used in a strategic manner to ensure a goal is met. It involves thinking about thinking.
 ‘Metalearning is thinking about how we ourselves learn, and can learn and develop more effectively’ (John Cowan email discussion 08/08/03). But learning involves more than cognition so metalearning must also embrace the affective, connative and embodiment…mind, body, emotions/feelings.
 Wenden (1998 p34) described ‘metacognitive knowledge’ as the ‘facts learners acquire about their own cognitive processes as they are applied and used to gain knowledge and acquire skills in varied situations’. It is the knowledge we gain from the experience of doing things (experiential learning). People consciously or unconsciously use this knowledge to create strategies about learning’ (Cook 1993).
These strategies include for example:
planning – deciding what to do and how to do it (pre-planning) and modifying plans while you are doing it (panning in action)
directed attention – deciding in advance to work on the general aspects of a task
selective attention – deciding in advance to concentrate on certain things
self-monitoring – checking one’s performance when engaging in a task
self-evaluation – appraising one’s own performance in relation to self- or external criteria or standards
self-reinforcement – rewarding oneself for success
These strategies are embodied in the idea of Self-regulation. During the last decade more attention is being given in higher education to the development of individual’s capacities to think about how they interact with the world and learn through the process. In the UK, Personal Development Planning(PDP) is a system-wide policy aimed at supporting greater self-awareness.

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