Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

The Significance and Instruction of Metacognition in Continuing Education

Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

The Significance and Instruction of Metacognition in Continuing Education

Article excerpt


The importance of metacognition in the process of learning is an old idea that can be traced from Socrates' questioning methods to Dewey's (1933) perspective that we learn more from reflecting on our experiences than from the actual experiences themselves. What is more recent is the coining of the term "metacognition" and the emergence of a metacognition research field in the last four decades (Tanner, 2012).

It is John Flavell who puts forward the term in 1970s, recognizes that metacognition consists of both monitoring and regulation aspects, and defines it as follows: Metacognition refers to one's knowledge concerning one's own cognitive processes and products or anything related to them... Metacognition refers, among other things, to the active monitoring and consequent regulation and orchestration of these processes in relation to the cognitive objects or data on which they bear, usually in the service of some concrete goal or objective (Flavell, 1976, p. 232). Reviewing scholars' interpretations of metacognition, we define metacognition as knowledge and regulation of cognition: metacognitive knowledge includes the cognition of the subject (knowledge, ability, resources, cognitive, affective, and physiological state), others, cognitive universals, the task, as well as metacognitive awareness; metacognitive regulation involves planning to maximize the resources in a certain context prior to performing a task, monitoring, regulating to optimize the performance during the task, and evaluating and reflecting the cognitive process after the performance (Zou, 2015).

The importance of metacognition in learning has been recognized that meta-cognition can be observed as one of the most important factors leading to success in learning (Schraw 1998; Veenman, Prins & Elshout, 2002). First, the impact of metacognition in learning has been proved. Students will not really learn new information if they do not go through a metacognitive realization that requires them to examine how they thought about the topic before and how they are thinking differently about that topic now (Posner et al., 1982), which is in accordance with Dewey's (1933) assertion that reflection on an experience is the key step in learning. Furthermore, there is evidence that improved metacognition is associated with promoting young students' overall academic success (Adey & Shayer, 1993; Kuhn & Pearsall, 1998), the most effective learners are self- regulating (Butler &Winne,1995, p. 245), and students with greater metacognitive abilities tend to be more successful in their cognitive endeavors (Livingston, 1996), while individuals with poor metacognitive skills perform less well academically than peers (Kruger, 1999; Dunning et al., 2003). Besides, an adequate level of metacognition may compensate for cognitive limitations (Veenman, Wilhelm, & Beishuizen, 2004; Veenman &Spaans, 2005). Metacognition helps to maximize what one has learned and makes one "do 20% better - you get an extra Friday every week" (Heppell , 2014 ).

However, most papers on metacognition focus on regular undergraduates and postgraduates. Twenty-two papers on metacognition of adult learners are found in CNKI, most of which are speculative ones with a few empirical studies; furthermore, most of the researches are quite brief, having little intensive analysis of the significance of metacognition for adult learners in schools of continuing education. This study aims to explore the following questions based on a survey on metacognition: 1. Why is metacognition significant for adult learners? 2. Could metacognition stimulate adult learners' motivation and self-efficacy? 3. How can metacognition be integrated into adult education to promote the efficiency and effect of learning?

The Necessity and Urgency of Metacognition for Adult Learners

Adult learners in schools of continuing education are different from learners in regular higher educational institutions in respect of age, career, motivation, experience, and responsibility, which makes metacognition essentially significant in continuing education for the time being and for the long term. …

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