How Experts Differ from Novices – Metacognition

                As I embarked on my graduate project, “Developing Strategic Readers”, at Virginia Tech, I thought that I could teach my students several reading strategies to enhance their reading comprehension and they will automatically become strategic readers.  I was very naïve about the process of learning and developing metacognition.

                I found the chapter, “How Experts Differ from Novices” of “How People Learn…” very insightful and interesting.  I grew up viewing the term “expert” as someone who knew everything possible in their own field.  This chapter opened up my eyes to a different way to looking at not just the term “expert”, but at learning in general.  As educators we understand that one of the most important tasks of education is to teach our students how to learn on their own throughout their lifetimes, beyond the classroom. First we need to acknowledge the question of how do we learn? How do we know what we’ve learned and how to direct our own future learning? This is where the concept of metacognition comes to focus.  According to this chapter, “…students need to develop the ability to teach themselves.” (page 50) This chapter encourages us to assist our students to “…become metacognitive about their learning so they can assess their own progress and continually identify and pursue new learning goals.” (page 50) Our students will become problem-solvers when they develop metacognition.  They will know how to recognize errors or breaks in their own thinking, analyze, process, and articulate their thought processes, and review their efforts.  As this chapter points out, “knowledge cannot be reduced to sets of isolated facts or propositions…” (page 31)  “Experts have acquired extensive knowledge that affects what they notice and how they organize, represent, and interpret information in their environment.  This in turn, affects their abilities to remember, reason, and solve problems.” (page 31) Metacognition and self-regulation play a major role in our students’ learning and the process is much more complex than just remembering and utilizing a set of reading strategies.