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Enhancing Metacognition in eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know
Metacognition involves not just having knowledge and being able to cognitively process information, but being able to control these mental processes. This typically involves modification, monitoring, and organization of the information in order to apply it in real world settings. Metacognition also focuses on analyzing a challenge or task to determine which problem solving approach would be the most effective.
One of the most significant advantages of using metacognition in eLearning is that it encourages learners to become more independent and empowered. They must identify their strengths and weaknesses, and fine tune their study, organization, problem-solving, and communication skills. In this article, I’ll delve into the categories of metacognition, its best practices, and I’ll share 5 tips that will help you use metacognition in eLearning.
Metacognitive Knowledge vs. Metacognitive Regulation
Based upon the research of Flavell (1979, 1987) and Schraw& Dennison (1994), metacognition involves 2 distinct elements: knowledge and regulation.
Metacognitive Knowledge is the information that learners actually know about themselves, as well as the various problem-solving approaches that can be used, and what is required to complete a particular learning activity. Flavell also states that metacognitive knowledge involves three key variables:
Learners’ capacity to recognize and acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses during the learning process.
- Task analysis.
What learners already know or can learn about the task at-hand, as well as what they will need to successfully complete the task. For instance, they may understand that a complex problem will require more time and critical thinking skills.
- Selection of strategy.
The strategies and problem-solving approaches that learners already have at their disposal to complete the task. For example, they might read through the research material before answering a set of questions or engage in an online scenario before completing the same process in real-world settings.
Metacognitive Regulation refers to how well learners are able to modify their mental processes in order to take control of their learning experience. For instance, they might fine tune their post-evaluation process, plan more effectively, or re-evaluate their learning goals to prepare for the next learning activity.
Best Practices To Enhance Metacognitive Skills
According to Fogarty (1994), in order to enhance their metacognitive skills learners must participate in the three different phases of metacognition, which are:
- Creating a study plan.
Learners should create a study plan before beginning any learning task.
- Monitoring their comprehension.
Learners must be able to monitor their understanding and comprehension throughout the task, making adjustments as needed.
After the task has been completed learners should evaluate their learning processes and determine how they can improve.
5 Instructional Design Tips To Enhance Metacognition in eLearning
- Integrate a wide range of skills and subjects.
In the real world learners will need to be able to apply their metacognitive abilities in a wide range of situations and settings. As such, you will want to integrate a wide range of skills and subjects into your eLearning course design, so that your learners can fine tune their metacognitive talents by completing diverse learning tasks.
- Model the metacognitive process.
Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to encourage metacognition in your learners. Create a tutorial or video presentation that showcases the metacognitive process. State the problem or question in the beginning of the presentation; then guide them through the steps you would use to solve it. Be as detailed as possible and include every mistake they could make along the way, as mistakes can serve as invaluable teaching tools as well.
- Give them control.
Allow students to take control of their own eLearning experience by giving them freedom of choice. Give them the ability to choose what projects to complete, when, as well as which topics they would like to explore. By doing this, you generate authentic interest, rather than forcing them to master a particular subject. They are also more likely to use their critical thinking, analysis, and creative thinking skills to solve the problem if they were the ones who chose to tackle the problem themselves.
- Review, identify, and evaluate.
At the end of every eLearning activity, encourage your students to review, identify, and evaluate the process. Ask them to review the eLearning activity, itself, including their personal opinions about it. Then ask them to identify the strategies they utilized and why they chose these strategies, before evaluating their overall performance and assessing their strengths and weaknesses throughout the task.
- Encourage learners to differentiate what they know from what they need to know.
The main goal of any eLearning experience is to fill the learning gap, whatever or however large that gap might be. Before each eLearning activity encourage your learners to determine what they currently know and what they need to learn by the end of the task. This might be developing specific skills or acquiring new information. Once they have completed the task, have them evaluate their original statements in order to determine if they have achieved their individual goals. You can also ask them to modify or add to their statements throughout the eLearning activity if necessary.
Metacognition gives your learners the ability to self-regulate and self-reflect, whether they have the skills and information they need to tackle challenges in and out of the virtual classroom. You can utilize these tips and best practices to develop metacognition in eLearning and benefit your online learners by facilitating their learning process and helping them to achieve better results.
Using metacognition in eLearning can empower your audience, but they must also first have the motivation and drive to become active participants. The article Intrinsic Motivation In Online Training features 6 top tips to help you bring intrinsic motivation into your online learning environment.