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Metacognition , to put it simply, is the act of thinking about one's own thinking. The Vanderbilt University article by Nancy Chick (cited below) specifies further by elaborating that "it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of...

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Metacognition, to put it simply, is the act of thinking about one's own thinking. The Vanderbilt University article by Nancy Chick (cited below) specifies further by elaborating that "it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) oneself as a thinker and learner."

There is increasing interest in metacognition, particularly how to encourage and teach it to children. It is a key element in what we call "growth mindset"—the belief that everyone can learn and improve. In growth mindset, the fatalistic idea of "I can't do it" is transformed into "I can't do it—yet." And from there, an individual can take steps to learn more efficiently; to grow as a learner.

An example of metacognition, one often seen in educational settings, is asking a student to explain the process they used when solving a math problem. For instance, a student may know the answer to 5x9, but when asked to use metacognition, they would have to explain. They might say, "I memorized the 10s fact pattern, so I know 5x10=50. Then I took away 5 more, because 9 is 1 less than 10, but we are counting by 5's, so we remove 5 at a time. And 5 less than 50 is 45." In this case, the student has to think about their own thinking and the process they used in their head to solve the math problem. It is a useful skill to practice and an important part of becoming a lifelong learner.

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