Metacognition refers to “thinking about thinking” and was initiated as a notion by John Flavell, who is generally known as a founding father of the field. Flavell explained that metacognition is the understanding you have of your own cognitive processes (your thinking), Flavell (1979). It is your capability to monitor your thinking processes through several strategies, like organizing, monitoring, and adapting. In addition, it is your capability to reflect upon the tasks or processes you undertake and to select and use the adequate strategies in your intercultural interactions.
Metacognition is considered a crucial element of successful learning. It includes self-regulation and self-reflection of strengths, weaknesses, and the types of strategies you develop. It is an essential instauration in culturally intelligent leadership because it emphasizes how you think along an issue or situation and the strategies you develop to treat this situation or problem.
Some people become habitual to getting trainers and consultants offer them the knowledge about cultures to the point where they are reliant on the coach, mentor, trainer, or consultant. However, they must learn to be experts in cultural scenarios themselves over metacognitive strategies like adapting, monitoring, self-regulation, and self-reflection. Culturally intelligent leaders may utilize metacognition to aid and teach themselves to reflect through their thinking.
Metacognition includes three components: metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive and emotions, and metacognitive strategies. Each of these is addressed in the next paragraphs.
Why Teach Metacognitive Skills?
Research demonstrates that metacognitive skills may be tutored to students to ameliorate their learning (Nietfeld & Shraw, 2002; Thiede, Anderson, & Therriault, 2003).
Constructing understanding necessitates both cognitive and metacognitive components. Trainees “construct knowledge” utilizing cognitive strategies, and they orientate, modulate, and assess their learning utilizing metacognitive strategies. It is through this “thinking about thinking,” this use of metacognitive strategies, that real learning happens. As students become more skilled at utilizing metacognitive strategies, they attain confidence and become more autonomous as learners.
Individuals with well-developed metacognitive competencies may analyze a problem or approach a learning task, choose adequate strategies, and decide about a course of measures to solve the problem or efficiently execute the task. They frequently reflect about their own thinking processes, taking time to reflect about and learn from mistakes (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1995). Some pedagogical programs motivate students to participate in “metacognitive conversations” with themselves so that they can “talk” with themselves about their learning, the challenges they meet, and the ways in which they may self-compensate and continue learning.
Furthermore, individuals who prove a wide diversity of metacognitive competencies execute better on exams and accomplish work more efficiently—they use the right tool for the job, and they modify learning strategies as required, defining blocks to learning and changing tools or strategies to assure objectives accomplishment. Because Metacognition plays a crucial function in productive learning, it is insistent that mentors assist learners create metacognitively.
Metacognitive knowledge includes:
1) learning processes and your confidence about how you learn and how you reflect others learn.
2) the task of learning and how you process information.
3) the strategies you develop and when you will utilize them.
Let us say you should to learn a new language in six months. Here is how you would reflect about it, using metacognitive knowledge:
- Learning Process: I am good at learning new languages and I think I may do this in the time period I have been given.
- Task of Learning: To accomplish this task, I will need to reflect about the following:
- How soon may I get information to begin learning the language?
- How much time would it take to learn the new language?
- What information is accessible to me to learn this new language?
- Is this language comparable to any language I have learned before?
- Will I be capable to learn the language in time?
- How difficult will it be for me to learn this language?
- What I have to do to learn the language?
- The Strategies: I think learning this new language will take 12 months, but I only have 6 months to do it. I better check other ways to meet this goal. I think I will check if there is an accelerated language class that I may take. Maybe I must consider hiring a private tutor, or maybe I will just concentrate on learning the basics of the language.
Metacognition and Emotions
Arnold Bennett, a British writer, explained that one may not have knowledge without having emotions, Bennett (1933). In metacognition, there are feelings and emotions present that are related to the objectives and tasks of learning. These elements of metacognition speaks to metacognitive experience, which is your internal response to learning. Your feelings and emotions serve as a feedback system to help you understand your progress and estimates, and your comprehension and connection of new information to the old, among other things.
When you learn a new language, for example, you can recall memories, information, and earlier experiences in your life to help you resolve the task of learning a new language. In doing this, your internal responses (metacognitive experience) might be frustration, disappointment, happiness, or satisfaction. Each of these internal responses may impact the task of learning a new language and determine your willingness to continue. Critical to metacognition is the capability to purposely nurture a positive mindset and positive feelings toward your learning.
Metacognitive strategies are what you design to supervise your progress correlated with your learning and the tasks at hand. It is a process for controlling your thinking activities and to assure you are meeting your objectives. Metacognitive strategies for learning a new language may comprise the following:
- Monitoring whether you understand the language lessons;
- Realizing when you fail to comprehend information addressed to you in the new language;
- Identifying strategies that help you to develop your comprehension;
- Adjusting your speed for learning the information (for example, studying for 2 hours, instead of 1 hour, every day);
- Maintaining the attitude necessary to assure you accomplish the lessons in a timely manner;
- Creating a check-in system at the end of each week to make sure you understand what you have learned.
As one business manager of a reputed company told me:
Understanding cultural strategic reflecting is like this: When I work with people from various cultures, this is a framework and approach to help me comprehend how I think when I work with them. It helps me to recognize the cultural experiences I have had, and to identify preconceived notions I could have about their culture, whether it’s race/ethnicity, social culture, age group—you name it. Cultural strategic reflecting pushes me to develop experiences and new learning that helps me to complete my objectives as a global manager.G. Menefee (personal communication, May 12, 2010).
Individuals like this leader are good at applying strategies that focus their attention on the target at hand. They look for, and derive meaning from, cultural interacts and situations, and they adjust themselves to the situation when things do not pan out as they expected. Culturally intelligent leaders also supervise and organize their own learning processes. They have established a high motivation for learning the metacognitive mechanism, either because they know it is a benefit or because others tell them it is beneficial to them.
Knowledge of actual information and basic competences offers a foundation for developing metacognition. Metacognition empowers leaders to master information and solve problems more easily. When a leader has learned the fundamental competences required for intercultural interacts, they may strongly engage in the interaction because they do not have to consider the other dynamics and demands of the situation. Culturally intelligent leaders are capable to apply metacognition, and they are not afraid to use it in their daily life.
For those who lack basic intercultural skills, it is more hard for them to engage in the interaction. They are more occupied with finding the “right information,” the “right skills,” and the “right facts” required to solve the problem. In such situations, these kinds of leaders spend little time improving their metacognitive competencies, and the result is probably an inefficient solution to a problem. Designing a laundry list or checklist of do’s and don’ts will not help leaders improving their cultural intelligences.