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5 Metacognition skills that can improve your studies


There are some quotes that do the rounds out there, so clichéd you don’t know their origin. Was it from Benjamin Disraeli? Winston Churchill? For all you know, it might have even been your grumpy old grandad high on local liquor.

René Descartes’ “I think therefore I am”, proudly excuses itself from that list. What it basically means is that, while you can doubt the existence of any other thing, you cannot doubt your thoughts.

It’s along these lines that we can bring in metacognition, which is mostly described as “thinking about one’s thinking”. Derived from the word cognition which means thinking, metacognition skills are the tactics employed when coming up with a thought, an answer or just learning in general.

In other words, metacognition is a self-assessment of what processes and strategies one uses to produce results in their learning or general life. Simple things like planning and evaluating a task are metacognitive.

Metacognition skills are what best learners use in defining how they tackle a problem or come up with ideas and solutions.These same skills can be implemented in studying and projects in school for a better performance. There are a wide range of them but here are 5 you can build on.

1. Use pre-assessments

Before handling a task, take some time to list down what you already know about the project. If it is a topic or question, take a paper and write everything you might know about it before activating your Wi-Fi and Googling for answers.

2. Skimming

Another practice to adopt would be skimming through subheadings when studying or researching. There are times when some topics contain information simply for emphasis. This information then clouds our brains and locks out what would have been useful information. It also helps a lot in time management.

3. Concept mapping

This is the graphical representation of knowledge of a subject. It always starts with a concept enclosed in a square with arrows showing how it connects with other concepts. This can be really handy in helping you see the bigger picture in a project and how this affects other parts of the assignment.

4. Using retrospective post-assessments

While this might not apply to a one-time project or study, it can be used in monitoring a student’s performance or behavior over time. When you have changed a certain habit in your life, look back and try to compare how things were before and after the change. Did you improve on your presentation after reading a certain book or were you better off in the beginning?

5. Using the reflective approach

After handing in that project, look at the methods you used in data collection. What worked? What didn’t? By reflecting back, you can build on what worked and ensure that you maximize on it for better results next time or in other disciplines of your life.

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