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Metacognition as a Powerful Phenomenon

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Metacognitive awareness is based on the notion of metacognition. The word Metacognition has its root in the 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 the last few decades.

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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 takes 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 of 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 the 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 an 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).

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 acts as a self-reflection, self-assessment, self-regulation of students weakness, learning strategies and strength of performance and makes students independent learner. Researchers like (Tok 2010; Coskun, 2010; Narang and Saini, 2013; Lihua, 2013; Eluemuno 2013; Rasha, 2014) reported that metacognition helps students to do better, enable them to become an independent learner, has a 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.

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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. The 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 a self-directed learner. These abilities develop self-regulation and self-monitoring among learner that enhance academic achievement, intellectual growth and made them independent learner. Metacognition also enhances student’s engagement in learning and development potential to deal with the things wisely in their own way.

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