In the PYP metacognition is one of the Thinking Skills (Approaches to Learning) and is defined in the following way:Analysing one's own and other's thought processes; thinking about how one thinks and how one learns.
Metacognition is also an essential part of the concept of reflection, where we ask the question "How do we know?" This concept was chosen because it challenges students to look at evidence when drawing conclusions. In Making the PYP Happen it states:
It challenges the students to examine their evidence, methods and conclusions. In doing so, it extends their thinking into the higher order of metacognition, begins to acquaint them with what it means to know in different disciplines, and encourages them to be rigorous in examining evidence for potential bias or other inaccuracy.
I'm interested to read what David A. Sousa writes about reflection and metacognition, which he sees as being very different. Reflection is looking back at something after it has happened, for example how a problem was solved, and then thinking about whether there was a better way to do it, or how it could be changed next time. He writes that metacognition is different because the thinking happens while learning - during, not after.
When we talk about the lower levels of Bloom's, for example remembering, I notice we often put automaticity into this lower level. This refers to a skill that has already been mastered, so it can be performed without almost any thought. The example I always think about here is driving a car. To start with you have to think about everything, but later you can drive automatically. However is this really a lower level skill? As we are driving we are constantly looking, assessing, making split-second decisions, monitoring what other road users are doing and so on. Sousa feels that automaticity is actually a complement to higher-order thinking, that leads to the successful accomplishment of tasks.
Metacognition is difficult for young children. This is because metacognition happens in the brain's prefrontal cortex, and it is not until 5th or 6th grade that students' frontal lobes are sufficiently developed so that they can understand what learning strategies will be effective for them. However Sousa writes that studies of older students who learn about and use metacognitive strategies show greater academic achievement than students who do not.
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