Neuroscience and Biobehavioral : Metacognition

Definition: Then and Now

Although this entry regards metacognition, due to the strong theoretical and empirical tie between metacognition and motivation, a limited number of reviews on motivation is included in places to provide a better sense of the context of this entry. As learner engagement in metacognitive activity is largely hinged on learner motivation to participate in such activity, this section begins with self-regulation as the construct is related to both metacognition and motivation.

Metacognition is a component of manifested self-regulated learning postulated within the social-cognitive theoretical framework (Zimmerman, 2000). Self-regulated learning is derived from earlier work by Flavell (1979). Flavell defined metacognition in areas including metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive experience, activation of strategies, and goals. Metacognition was then separated into ‘knowledge about cognition’ and ‘regulation of cognition.’ Metacognitive knowledge indicates awareness of one’s own declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge and strategies. Metacognitive regulation involves planning, monitoring, evaluating cognitive operations, and selecting and using cognitive strategies effectively by combining, discarding, and coordinating various strategies.

From this distinction, ‘regulation’ of cognition expanded into contemporary self-regulation that includes motivation in the model. This addition signifies the close relation between metacognitive and motivational aspects of self-regulation in the learning and problem solving process. In this formulation, self-regulated learners are described as highly motivated as they view tasks as useful, important, or interesting, are self-efficacious, and monitor and regulate their efforts and perseverance during tasks; further, self-regulated learners are aware of their own knowledge, strategies, and thinking process and regulate the use of metacognitive strategies during tasks.

While acknowledging metacognitive processes as fundamentally important human cognition for creativity and problem solving, Sternberg’s (2001) description of ‘creativity as a decision’ supports the notion that motivation is a driving force for creativity and that metacognition helps maneuver creative process. As such, in studying the relation between metacognition and creativity, including motivation as a variable, along with other related variables, will help better understand the nature of the relation between metacognition and creativity. Construct validation studies for self-regulation and its subcomponents, metacognition and motivation, have provided support to its structural validity on both state and trait constructs.

Diverse definitions and measures have been used in studies of metacognition as well as creativity, posing challenges in drawing conclusions and finding meanings about the relation of metacognition to creativity. The frequently quoted general definitions of metacognition (e.g., thinking about one’s own thinking or cognition about cognition) does not convey what particular researchers might mean about metacognition, and this constitutes ...

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