Teaching Students to Drive their Brains!!!

This blog is a product of the intense discussion and feedback of my PBL group on Topic 4.  Our PBL’s discussion has been published here.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself working on meta-cognition in learning.  I shall concentrate on meta-cognition in this blog. 



The graphic above is the cover of a book and also a vimeo podcast (the link is provided in the caption).  Although the podcast was first published about FIVE years ago, I believe it is still relevant.  What appealed to me about the book title is that it succinctly and accurately describes my quest as an instructor.  In the past, I was focused on how to be a good instructor and how to improve students’ learning.  But to teach them to drive their brains – that is the ultimate! and a totally refreshing perspective.

I started with not knowing anything about meta-cognition in learning.  The little that I have read, instantly appealed to me.  In spirituality, there is those who believe and those who seek for answers to questions.  Meta-cognition in learning is very much like making students “seekers” in their lifelong journey towards learning.  In this blog, I will not dwell on the activities and strategies of meta-cognition.  These have been extensively published and my blog will be just a drop compared to the ocean of knowledge on this subject that is readily available on the world wide web [1-5].  Instead, I will provide a link that serves as a great starting point on meta-cognition in learning[2].  This link claims to be the ultimate guide and I do not disagree.  The rest of the blog will concentrate on what is meta-cognition.

What is meta-cognition?

To define meta-cognition, it is perhaps important to know what cognition is.  The graphic below does exactly that.  When you have an inkling about “Thinking about your own thinking,” the next projection will be naturally be to apply it to your own learning. 

(source: https://everettcc.instructure.com/courses/1500883/assignments/11085082)

The information flow in the metacognition model is described in the graphic below.  Successful students are said to possess better metacognitive skills than less successful students [6]. They are able to better control their cognitive skills.  If we think of cognition as being on “auto-pilot” with the brain functioning on past experiences and information, then meta-cognition is the ocassional interruption to the auto-pilot to monitor if any intervention is required to perform better. 

In the next graphic, an interesting issue of whether there is a continuum in meta-cognition is illustrated.  In developing metacognitive skills for her students, the instructor responsible for the graphic below had developed a continuum of skillsets for a lesson on how to describe a rhombus from the students’ previous lessons about squares.

Concluding remarks

It is my humble opinion that adding meta-cognition to one’s own practice as an instructor (I could have very simply referred to this as teaching, but I think the future of teaching is to facilitate the learning of  students.  Perhaps referring to teachers as instructors will be better.) will lead to a successful and satisfying career as an instructor. 


  1.  Activities for Metacognition.    https://resources.depaul.edu/teaching-commons/teaching-guides/learning-activities/Page/activities-for-metacognition.aspx   
  2. Supercharge learning power in your lessons with new metacognitive strategies!  https://www.globalmetacognition.com/post/metacognition-activities-strategies-the-ultimate-guide
  3. The Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience: Teaching activities.  https://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/metacognition/activities.html
  4. Metacognition in the Classroom: Activities to Promote Metacognitive Learning.  https://edservices.wiley.com/metacognition-in-classroom-activities/
  5. Mastering Metacognition: The What, Why, and How.   https://www.activelylearn.com/post/metacognition 
  6. L. Baker, Metacognition, International Encyclopedia of Education (Third Edition), pp. 204-210, 2010
Teaching Students to Drive their Brains!!!