Metacognition

Literally, this means: thinking about thinking.

The only way to improve one’s thinking is thinking about it. To enhance learning, it is important to stop every so often to think about how we got to a certain conclusion. Similar to when someone wants to improve his/her ability to play a sport, they practice, watch films of themselves and others, and then think about the best ways to perform certain actions. Reflection is crucial for understanding what processes the learner has gone through, what was easy and difficult for him/her, what was helpful, what was useless, and what needs improvement. When conducting a workshop or frontal teaching session, it is helpful to run a brief (1-2 minute) metacognition session on a regular basis throughout the day. Of even more importance is to run one at the end of a day of learning. When facilitating the metacognition technique, it is more interesting and helpful if the participants are asked to concentrate on something a little different each time they think about their thinking.

Some options for metacognition exercises are:

  1. Think of one thing that is valuable for you; why is it valuable?
  2. Think of one person back at the office that you would like to share something with. What is it and why with that person?
  3. Think of one thing that annoyed you or you felt uncomfortable with during the process.
  4. Think of something that was useful and practical that you are planning to use in the future.
  5. Think of something you changed your mind about, because you thought about it.

Metacognition exercise tip: It is important to write down thoughts or share them with someone else. This way, there is a better chance you will remember them.

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