Defining Metacognition: A step towards recognising metacognition as a worthwhile part of the curriculum.

Year: 1999

Author: Wilson, Jeni

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Researchers, educators and curriculum documents promote the importance of metacognition for student learning but much confusion in the field continues to exist about what the term 'metacognition' means. This lack of clarity creates obstacles for researchers and educators. It is difficult to assess what cannot be defined. Because of the importance attached to assessed curriculum, a likely implication is that metacognition will not be widely embraced as a worthwhile part of the curriculum unless metacognition is clearly defined and is included as part of assessment practices.

This paper reports on a study which investigated the notion of metacognition and its assessability within the curriculum domain of mathematics. Techniques frequently used for monitoring metacognition are criticised in terms of validity and reliability. The study was planned to minimise limitations of individual techniques and attend to questions of legitimacy. Thus, a new, multi-method approach was developed and trialled for the assessment of metacognitive functions (Awareness, Evaluation and Regulation). The main features of this approach were a hands-on card sorting task and video

stimulated recall used within the context of a problem based clinical interview. This paper does not focus on the technique used.

The study involved 90 interviews of year six students from three different schools. The study provides details about the theoretical nature of metacognition, empirical results about metacognitive behavior during mathematical problem solving and presents a tested model of metacognition. The results show that the sequence of student metacognitive behavior is predictable regardless of school, class, sex and task.