Developing metacognition: a basis for active learning

Henk Vos, E. de Graaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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The reasons to introduce formats of Active Learning in Engineering (ALE) like project work, problem based learning, use of cases, etc., are mostly based on practical experience and sometimes from applied research on teaching and learning. Such research shows that students learn more and different abilities than in traditional formats of teaching. These abilities are often required by the employers of the alumni and therefore included in the curricula to educate competent practitioners. A major problem is, however, that a coherent theoretical background explaining the mechanisms underlying ALE is all but lacking. Therefore it is not clear what the developmental objectives of ALE are. A theoretical basis embedded in learning psychology is needed. A promising concept to fill this gap seems the construct of metacognition (Vos, 2001) as distinct from cognition. Cognition is concerned with what someone knows, metacognition with what persons know about their knowledge (Flavell, 1979; Metcalfe, 1994). Our proposal is that ALE is focused on developing metacognition above or more than cognition. This foundation is important because education for cognitive objectives differs from that for metacognitive ones. Also, metacognitive objectives are more difficult to obtain. The use of founding ALE in the development of metacognition is that knowledge about metacognition serves to formulate clear goals of ALE. From knowledge about metacognitive development also hints can be derived to raise the effectiveness of ALE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-548
JournalEuropean journal of engineering education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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