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Supporting Student Metacognition

In recent years, there has been extensive research in student learning and teaching practice in such areas as cognitive psychology, learning theory and teaching strategies. Effective instruction can be learned and defined and it is an art as well as a science. There are four areas of thinking to which instruction is directed: knowledge acquisition, cognitive processes, metacognitive processes and the self-system (dispositions). Within this framework, there are many instructional practices that can focus on engaging the different types of thinking. An instructional cycle should engage all four types of thinking in students as teachers use instructional practices in sequence or in tandem. It is important that teachers encourage students to become autonomous learners. A part of the Powerful Instructional Practices Series, this program on supporting student metacognition is introduced by Ian Krips, Associate Director of Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit (SPDU): Professional Growth Partnerships. Krips explains that metacognition is the thought processes people use when they consider the ways in which they think as they work to learn or do something. He outlines the phases in metacognitive thought: planning for learning, monitoring thinking and learning and reflecting on thinking and learning. Krips informs viewers that at the beginning of a task, students should be involved in clarifying the goals of instruction, setting their own personal goals, and determining how they might go about addressing the task and what abilities they will need to develop to do so. He explains that during the learning, students need to be encouraged to apply multiple methods to learn material, and that at the end of the cycle, students should then reflect on how they were thinking, how well they learned, the effectiveness of the method they employed, how and if they would use it again and what might have worked better. The video focuses on a Grade 12 English language arts class that is learning about ambition and power. The teacher asks students to discuss what they learned about themselves as learners. At the end of the program, the teacher emphasizes the power of metacognition in students' learning. More information on metacognition and other instructional practices can be found in the document entitled Powerful Instructional Practices: A Resource for Teachers and Administrators.


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