What have I learned about my own learning?
There are many things I have learned about myself as a learner on this course but I think two of the most profound are evidenced here on this blog – Reflective practice and the metacognitive process.
Reflective practice is an ability to reflect on one’s own actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning. A key rationale for reflective practice is that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning; deliberate reflection on experience is essential (Wikipedia, 2015). In Part 2 of this entry I will detail and reflect on three of the changes I have made to my practice since starting the course and my third entry critically evaluates Lynda Finlay’s (2008) views on the subject.
I have found this to be an important tool in my practice-based professional learning because I learn more from my own professional experiences, than from the formal learning or knowledge transfer of the course material. This may in fact be the most important source of my professional learning development. It is also an essential way for me to bring together theory and practice; through reflection I am able to see and label forms of thought and theory within the context of my work.
By reflecting throughout my practice I am not just looking back on past actions and events, but also taking a conscious look at emotions, experiences, actions, and responses, and using that information to add to my existing knowledge base and reach a higher level of understanding.
Metacognition is often simply defined as “thinking about thinking” (Livingston, 1997). For myself that is being able to reflect on my own cognitive experiences. The term is most often associated with John Flavell, (1979). According to Flavell metacognition consists of both metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive experiences or regulation. Metacognitive knowledge refers to acquired knowledge that can be used to control cognitive processes. Flavell further divides this into three categories: knowledge of person variables (individual knowledge of one’s own learning processes), task variables (knowledge about the nature of the task and the type of processing demands) and strategy variables (knowledge about both cognitive and metacognitive strategies, as well as when and where it is appropriate to use such strategies).
Metacognitive strategies are sequential processes that one uses to control cognitive activities, and to ensure that a cognitive goal (e.g., understanding) has been met. These processes consist of planning and monitoring cognitive activities, as well as checking the outcomes of those activities.
For example, in my third entry I will be responding to an article by Lynda Finlay (2008) and questioning myself about the concepts discussed therein. My cognitive goal is to understand the text and self-questioning is a metacognitive comprehension monitoring strategy. If I find that I cannot answer my own questions, or do not understand the material discussed, I must then determine what needs to be done to ensure that I meet the cognitive goal of understanding the text. I may decide to go back and re-read the article with the goal of being able to answer the questions I had generated. If, after re-reading through the text I can now answer the questions, I can determine that I understand the material. Thus, the metacognitive strategy of self-questioning is used to ensure that the cognitive goal of comprehension is met! Obviously I can apply the same concepts to my students.
A third aspect of myself as a learner that has been highlighted by this course is the importance of collaboration. For my dissertation at The University of Auckland I did all my own work and obviously received my own grade. This model did not prepare me well for my workplace, where I work on teams with others to accomplish tasks that are too complex for me to do on my own. My last two assignments at The Mind Lab were completed with the help of people on those teams and required collaboration skills to work productively and to integrate individual expertise and ideas into a coherent solution.
The course has enabled us to have shared responsibility for the workload, and the learning activities were designed in a way that required us to make substantive decisions together. These features helped me learn the important collaboration skills of negotiation, conflict resolution, agreement on what must be done, distribution of tasks, listening to the ideas of others, and integration of ideas into a coherent whole. Our work was interdependent and required us all to contribute in order for the team to succeed. It is this model that I will be using going forward with both my learning and teaching.
21st Century Learning Design. (2015). 21CLD Learning Activity Rubrics. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from http://pilnetwork.blob.core.windows.net/public/21CLD%20Learning%20Activity%20Rubrics%202012.pdf
Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34, 906-911
Livingston, J. A. (1997). Metacognition: An Overview. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from http://gse.buffalo.edu/fas/shuell/CEP564/Metacog.htm
Wikipedia. (2015). Reflective Practice. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflective_practice