Metacognition. Just the word sounds complicated and involved. However, metacognition is not all that difficult—in fact, thinking about the way you think is something you probably do without even realizing it. More than likely, you give thought to the way you want to organize your thoughts and approach to a new project at the outset. You already know the best way you think and operate—it just may be buried in your subconscious.
Metacognition is not just important when you start a new project at work, it’s also extremely important when you decide to go back and earn an advanced degree. After you’ve taken the Learning Styles Survey, it’s important to think about the way you think and create a strategy that will enable you to learn and achieve your goals through a customized approach. No two people learn the exact same way, and as such, no two people will have the same cognitive strategy. Your strategy should be specific to you.
According to Snowman and Biehler, cognitive strategy is divided into two segments: learning strategy and learning tactics. The first step in considering cognitive strategy is to determine your learning strategy: what is your general plan to achieve your academic goal? Map out a plan for achieving that goal. Each plan you map out becomes an objective (i.e., “Complete Biology course in 14 weeks”). These objectives will build your learning strategy.
Once you’ve determined your learning strategy, you’ll want to determine learning tactics that will be useful for you next. These tactics are what you will use to accomplish each individual objective that works toward fulfilling your overall learning strategy. There are two types of tactics: memory-directed tactics and comprehension-directed tactics. Memory-directed tactics are the techniques you use to store and retrieve important information as you study. Comprehension-directed tactics are the techniques that help you understand what you are learning (check out a previous post for an example). There are very few people who can use just one tactic or the other—both tactics are often needed to achieve success.
Give thought to what you feel will best help guide you toward success as you build your cognitive strategy. Not sure what strategies and tactics are best for you? Do a little research, beginning in our Center for Learning Empowerment and work from there!