Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cognition & Metacognition related to HPT

In today's business environment jobs, tasks, and problem-solving activities are multi-faceted in the sense that they require activation of all the cognitive sets of knowledge (declarative knowledge, conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, conditional knowledge). Equally, they require activation of all the associated metacognitive functions. Ignoring one of the cognitive or metacognitive domains - during training, while assigning a task to a group, or transferring information across processes, can lead to a deficit in performance. Addressing each of the four knowledge domains and their associated metacognitive domains during these activities will assure that all required information is exchanged and that the desired outcome will be successful.
Research has indicated that performance improvement occurs when the metacognitive domains are addressed. This research also includes performance improvement at the individual, team, group, and organizational levels. Addressing the cognitive and metacognitive domains during performance improvement efforts could assist the field of Human Performance Technology (HPT).


Cognition is a relatively new field in psychology that "describes the acquisition, storage, transformation, and use of knowledge" (Matlin, 2005, p. 2). Cognitive Psychology studies phenomena in the memory system such as: memory acquisition, memory storage and retrieval, short-term memory, working memory, long-term memory, and neuronal activity.
Matlin, M. W. (2005). Cognition (6th ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons.


Metacognition can be thought of as a developing skill, which helps one to become aware of her cognitive activities and to reflect on the outcomes from these cognitive activities. This awareness and reflection about one's cognitive activities help develop new theories about her metacognitive abilities.
Metacognition relates to one's understanding of her knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge. Kuhn (2000) defined metacognition as "cognition that reflects on, monitors, or regulates first-order cognition" (p. 178).
Kuhn, D. (2000). Metacognitive development. Current directions in psychological science, Vol. 9, No. 5, pp. 178-181.
Pintrich (2002) referred to metacognitive knowledge as "knowledge about cognition in general, as well as awareness of and knowledge about one's own cognition" (p. 219).
Pintrich, P. R. (2002). The role of metacognitive knowledge in learning, teaching, and assessing. Theory into practice, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 219-225.
Metacognition is a cyclical activity where the cognitive functions are reflected upon and monitored by the metacognitive functions. These same metacognitive functions also change based on the outcome of the cognitive functions.
Understanding one's metacognitive abilities provides for better learning and improved task or goal achievement. Having a clear understanding of one's metacognitive abilities allows a person to adapt better to new circumstances, thus providing for improved performance on the job, as well as in personal settings.

How do you use metacognitive strategies?  What metacognitive strategies have worked for you?
Below are a few examples of metacognitive strategies that could be used:
Problem-solving strategies.
Mental models.
Knowledge about self – recalling existing knowledge.
Ability to incorporate self-assessment techniques.
Feedback and feedforward processes.
Concept-mapping techniques.
Questioning the accuracy of understanding: either at the individual level or at the team/group level.
Having a clear understanding of the task/goal among all parties involved.
Having a clear understanding of the structure you are operating in.
The process of how learning is shared among members, either collective learning or shared team learning.
Information distribution available to all members during the project or task.
Having a shared interpretation of required information to complete a task among all members.

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