Metacognition is fundamental to anybody trying to get a few things done and the subject of Julie Allan's doctoral research.
Crucial for learning, critical thinking and decision making, metacognition has been most simply defined as ‘thinking about our thinking’. But it includes thinking about our feeling, and feeling about our thinking. And it's at the heart of our ability to reflect and have awareness, the important means by which we can monitor, regulate and choose actions.
When does it matter?
If you are preparing for a talk, metacognition helps you realise if you’re a bit hazy in some areas. And it allows you to turn further attention to these areas until you know you are more suitably prepared.
Perhaps fear has prevented you from instigating a difficult but useful conversation. Metacognition helps you appreciate that you are fearful, and adopt strategies that allow the conversation to be undertaken well.
In a group, addressing health service provision or developing a new commercial product, we draw on metacognition to notice our approach and the thinking that led to the current situation. We choose to challenge and change our thinking in order to get better outcomes.