Metacognitive heuristics as an effective device for helping people

Metacognitive
awareness is based on the notion of metacognition. The word Metacognition has
its root in Greek word ‘Meta’ which means going behind and is used to denote the
concept which is an abstraction behind another concept. Generally
Metacognition is referred to as “cognition about Cognition” or “thinking about
thinking”. But it’s just a quick definition. Metacognition is also used as
synonyms for a variety of epistemological process i.e. Meta-memory, Meta-perception
and Meta-comprehension (Papaleontiou-Louca, 2008). But, the term metacognition
is a comprehensive term. Metacognition gained popularity in the field of
cognitive psychology in last few decades. Research in Metacognition has begun
with John Flavell, who is considered to be the father of metacognition and
thereafter number of empirical and theoretical research dealing with
metacognition can be registered, suggesting various strategies that enhance
children metacognitive abilities, which teachers can also use in their
teaching. Metacognition is a fuzzy concept and is very difficult to define. Numerous
psychologist take it differently, Flavell (1978) defined metacognition as
“knowledge” that takes as its object or regulates any aspect of any cognitive
endeavor”.  Whereas Moore (1982) defines
it as “an individual’s knowledge about various aspects of thinking” and it has
also been described as “the abilities of individuals to adjust their cognitive
activity in order to promote more effective comprehension”. Similarly, Flavell
(1979), defined the concept of metacognition, as all those conscious cognitive
or affective experiences that    accompany
and pertain to an intellectual enterprise. Moreover, Paris and
Winograd (1990) describe metacognition in terms of its two essential elements
i.e. self-appraisal and self-management of cognition. Self-appraisal is the
personal reflection about one’s own knowledge, abilities, whereas, the self-management
is the affective states regarding one’s own knowledge, abilities, motivation
and characteristics as learners. Contrary to it Hennessey (1999) define
metacognition in terms of cognitive function and its application, according to
him metacognition refers to  “Awareness
of one’s own thinking, awareness of the content of one’s conceptions, an active
monitoring of one’s cognitive processes, an attempt to regulate one’s cognitive
processes in relationship to further learning, and an application of a set of
heuristics as an effective device for helping people organize their methods of
attacking problems in general”.

 

Gradually,
the concept of metacognition has become broader and now it includes everything
came in the domain of psychology. For example, if one has knowledge or
cognition about one’s own emotions or motives concerning a cognitive enterprise
(e.g. being aware of his anxiety while solving a problem in an exam paper),
this can be considered metacognitive. In fact, the recent literature completes
the term, by adding to its cognitive domain, the emotional one referring to the
emotions that accompany the cognitive processes and the person’s ability to
monitor them, as well as the domain of cognitive habits (Louca, 2008).
Educational psychologist encourages the use of metacognition in teaching
learning process as it enables students to be a successful learner and has been
associated with intelligence also. Metacognition is a
powerful phenomenon that enables students to set goals, plan, solve problem,
monitor progress, and evaluate their own thinking effectiveness (Beamon, 2001).
It is a regulatory process that enables an individual to control and understand
his/her mental process and become independent learner. Metacognitive skills
enable learners to know how to learn, evaluate and make strategies to solve a
particular problem. Metacognitive abilities enable children to understand what
actually they know, how they learned, and how they manage and regulate or
adjust their own thinking processes to maximize learning and memory. (Ormrod,
2006).

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Metacognition
plays an important role in oral comprehension, reading comprehension, problem
solving, attention, memory, social cognition, personality development,
communication and various types of self-control and self-instruction which are
key concerns for school (Flavell, 1979 cited by (Lihua, 2013). Metacognition
act as a self-reflection, self-assessment, self-regulation on students
weakness, learning strategies and strength of performance and make students
independent learner. Researchers like (Tok et.al. 2010; Coskun, 2010; Narang
and Saini, 2013; Lihua, 2013; Eluemuno et.al. 2013; Rasha, 2014) reported that
metacognition helps students to do better, enable them to become independent
learner, has positive impact on academic outcomes and tend to increase their
performance on intelligence test also. It cannot be denied that students are
using metacognitive strategies in learning and in other life situation as well,
but how much these strategies yield positive result cannot be predicted.

However
Metacognition is needed when tasks are more puzzling, challenging and cumbersome.
Man is endowed with rational characteristics and this rationality distinguished
him from animals. Thought process is a very important aspect of human
existence. In present day life it is very difficult to deal with the life
situation without using metacognitive abilities. Teachers should try to develop
metacognitive abilities among students so that they become self-directed
learner. These abilities develops self-regulation and self-monitoring among
learner that enhance academic achievement, intellectual growth and made them
independent learner. Metacognition also enhance student’s engagement in learning
and develop potential to deal with the things wisely in their own way.