Metacognition growth mindset

The Power of Metacognition

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Learning changes the brain

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"Pensar es servir"

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Every mind is creative

What is metacognition?

Generally speaking, cognition refers to thinking. More specifically, cognition refers to mental processes such as attention, memory, reasoning, problem solving, decision making, and understanding language.

Metacognition refers to higher-order thinking. It literally means "knowing about knowing" or "thinking about thinking." Metacognition enables you to understand, analyze and be actively aware of your thinking and learning processes. It also enables you control and regulate them.

This aspect of consciousness, or heightened self-awareness is considered to be a unique characteristic of the human human - which, as Vilayanur Ramachandran reminds us, is a "three-pound mass of jelly that you can hold in the palm of your hand, and it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space, it can contemplate the meaning of infinity, and it can contemplate itself contemplating on the meaning of infinity."

Metacognition involves a heightened awareness of your thinking processes or anything related to them. For example, you are a metacognitive learner when you are actively aware of the environment, conditions, processes, and strategies that motivate and enable you to learn.

You are also a metacognitive person when you apply a basic understanding of your brain to strategies and activities for personal development and growth. Becoming a metacognitive individual is the necessary foundation for developing and achieving your personal brain fitness and life goals. We can use some of what we learn about neuroplasticity to improve our health and our lives.

Growth mindset

Generally speaking, mindset refers to a predisposition or fixed mental attitude that determines how an individual will respond to and interpret situations and make decisions. See growth mindset.

Psychologist Carol Dweck from Stanford University distinguishes between fixed mindset, the belief that an individual's talent and success depend on innate ability, and growth mindset, the belief that talent and success are the outcome of learning, training and determination ("grit").

Individuals with fixed mindsets fear failure, whereas growth mindset individuals see failure as learning and a step toward success.

"In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it" (Dweck, 2012). While an individual may not be aware of his/her mindset, it is apparent in their attitudes, behaviours, and reactions to situations, in particular to failure.

Carol Dweck on the Complexity of Implementing Growth Mindset

'There was evidence that growth mindset had been tested and shown to work in ways that were meaningful to students – OK, that was the evidence, but the evidence did not speak to how to implement it in the classroom,' she explains. 'That part was not yet evidence-based. Research takes place over many years. We continue to probe and validate and extend it.'

Recommended Resources

Carol Dweck, Mindet: How You Can Fulfill Potential (2012)

__________, The Power of Believing That You Can Improve, TED Talk (Nov 2014)

Jon Severs, "Where Growth Mindset Went Wrong." tes (4 July 2019)

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