#5: Metacognition

Review #5
Krista L. Botton
California State University, Northridge
Review #5
Defining Metacognition
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines metacognition as “the awareness or analysis
of one’s own learning or thinking process.” The National Research Council (2005) adds that
“metacognition is used to refer to people’s knowledge about themselves as information
processors” (p. 10). By either definition, the role of the teacher becomes apparent. Part of any
teacher’s daily goal it to help their students learn and come to some realization of the process
they had to take to get there so that the process will be able to be successfully repeated.
Metacognition is so inherently important to the teaching process that the National Research
Council has assigned it as one of the three important principles of learning and instruction in
their text, How People Learn. Through their research and lesson analysis, the National Research
Council claims that “strengthening metacognitive skills…improves the performance of all
students, but has a particularly large impact on students who are lower-achieving” (p. 577). I
know that in my classroom improving student’s performance is an important goal, one that I
continually work to find ways to achieve; thus, this is an important aspect that will play a role in
my own action research project as I introduce students to visual representations of material,
increasing their awareness for the ways that they can both learn and represent material.
Metacognition in Science
Science is a subject that naturally allows for the metacognitive development of students.
As students are faced with inquiry situations students are often asked to come up with an
explanation for what they observe happening, this causes the student to reflect on the inquiry and
its process and make connections to information they may have already learned. In addition they
must evaluate their claims, as well as the claims of others to come up with a collaborative
Review #5
explanation for their group. They participate in the learning process and create ideas that can be
compared with those of other groups and discussed in class with teacher guidance or even among
their groups as they search for possible explanations.
Science easily allows for a wide variety of teaching strategies which enables students to
become aware of the ways that they learn best and gives them ample opportunity to use these
strategies when covering content material. Science, through a nature of experimentation,
provides many opportunities for kinesthetic learning either through the use of manipulatives, or
through actual lab design and procedure. Visual learning can be reinforced through the analysis
of models and diagrams, and auditory learners will find their niche in the discussion of ideas and
results from classroom activities.
Application to My Action Research
In my action research I hope to help my students become more reflective analyzers of
visual materials; to help them understand the role that diagrams and models may have in their
understanding and learning of science content. Students will be exposed to visual
representations of course material in place of lecture which will allow discussion of the material
from pictorial perspective. I am hoping to engage all learning styles through an active drawing
of diagrams, discussion of material, and of course, a visual representation of concepts. This will,
in turn, allow them to reflect on different methods to learn and represent material and become
more aware of diagrams in their studies. They will have a better understanding, when comparing
their representations to others of what they know and how they came to understand what they
Review #5
National Research Council. (2005). How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom. Committee
on How People Learn, A Targeted Report for Teachers, M. S. Donovan and J. D.
Bransford, Editors. Division of Behavioral And Social Sciences Education. Washington,
D. C.: The National Academies Press.