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Metacognition and Modalities

Theories and Perspectives in Science Education provides a quick run through of major theories in education.  Any teacher, and particularly a new teacher, would benefit from having this basic understanding of educational theory.  While all the theories are important to complete a well-rounded picture of beliefs about good practices in education, two are very basic and often overlooked – multiple modalities and metacognition.

            The lecture style of teaching, or “sit and get” as it is referred to, has historically been the most common practice in PreK through university level teaching.  As is pointed out in the readings, this is often the easiest on the teacher and therefore, many teachers employ this as their main teaching style.  So many of our students struggle because they are visual or kinesthetic learners who are forced to sit and try and learn by listening to their teacher.  The use of multiple modalities is key to helping all of our students – including auditory learners – learn effectively.

            Metacognition takes place when students think about how they are thinking and try to develop strategies that will help them to problem solve.  Metacognition can be very effective in increasing students’ ability to reason, understand, and implement new strategies to solve more difficult problems.  While metacognition is very powerful when employed by students, it is often never presented to them or presented in a very limited way.  Teachers must focus on metacognition and coach their students to think about their thinking.  Teachers must have a firm understanding of how to do this effectively and can learn these skills through teacher preparation or teacher development.