Metacognition and Critical Reflection

I simply cannot get enough of learning and I especially love learning about the way my brain works and how I learn.  This is perhaps why I am so enthralled by my course on critical refection at the moment and on reading more about the role that metacognition plays in it.  I can honestly say that learning about metacognition back in university as a pre-service teacher changed my life and the way I think and learn.  Having a better understanding of the way our brain works when we learn and how I can think about my own thought patterns, simply blows my mind.  Yesterday as I did a reading for uni I felt all of this excitement as I read: McAlpine, L; Weston, C; Beauchamp, J; Wiseman, C. & Beauchamp, C. (1999). Building a metacognitive model of reflectionHigher Education, 37, 105-131.

After I critically read through the text I created the following diagram to make sense of it for myself and try to grasp how it could inform my own project in assisting my students to be more effective reflectors.

Metacognitive model of reflection

Now what does this all mean?  Well, in the article McAlpine et al. (1999) discusses the 6 components of metacognition: goals, knowledge, action, decision making, monitoring and the corridor of tolerance.  The authors explained that it is the close inter-relation between knowledge and action that generates critical reflection based on goals that are set.  These goals provide the boundary for the critical reflection and are essentially the catalyst on which metacognition and critical reflection begins.  It is the monitoring of how goals are being reached that leads a person to making decisions about changing their actions in order to reach those goals more efficiently that makes up the majority of the critical reflection cycle.  The corridor of tolerance demonstrates the knowledge that sometimes in teaching things are not changed if they are within a certain area of ‘expected’ unpredictability in terms of their outcomes.  If what is happening is still deemed appropriate, changes may not be made.  However, if what is happening does lead to changes then it is said to be outside the corridor of tolerance and it can significantly change the knowledge and action components.

The authors sum it up by saying:

“Reflection is driven by goals, resulting in plans drawn from knowledge, leading to actions that are constantly being revised and updated as feedback is monitored through the corridor of tolerance and decisions lead to adjustments in actions.” (McAlpine et al., 1999, p.109)


The article offered many important insights into how I might better scaffold the development of metacognition and critical reflection for my students and that I think is what my project will be.


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