CCR Meta-Learning Framework

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  • Meta-Learning for the 21st Century: What Should Students Learn?

    November 2015

  • Prepared by: Maya Bialik Charles Fadel

    With many thanks to: Jennifer Groff Bernie Trilling for their contributions

    With sincere thanks for the generous support to the:

    Center for Curriculum Redesign Boston, Massachusetts www.curriculumredesign.org

    November 2015

    Copyright 2015 Center for Curriculum Redesign. All Rights Reserved.

    http://www.curriculumredesign.orghttp://www.curriculumredesign.org

  • Table of Contents

    About the Center for Curriculum Redesign ii ....................................Why Meta-Learning 1 ......................................................MetacognitionReflecting on Learning Goals, Strategies, and Results 4 .............Internalizing a Growth Mindset 4.............................................The Importance of Meta-Learning 5 ...........................................

    i

  • About the Center For Curriculum Redesign

    In the21stcentury,humanity is facingseveredif6icultiesat thesocietal,economic,andpersonal levels.Societally,wearestrugglingwithgreedmanifested in 6inancial instability,climatechange,andpersonalprivacyinvasions,andwithintolerancemanifestedinreligiousfundamentalism,racialcrises,andpoliticalabsolutism.Economically,globalizationand innovationarerapidlychangingourparadigmsofbusiness.On a personal level we are struggling with 6inding ful6illing employment opportunities and achievinghappiness. Technologys exponential growth is rapidly compounding the problems via automation andoffshoring,which are producing social disruptions. Educational progress is falling behind the curve oftechnologicalprogress,asitdidduringtheIndustrialRevolution,resultinginsocialpain.

    The Center for Curriculum Redesign addresses the fundamental question of "WHAT should studentslearn for the 21st century?" and openly propagates its recommendations and frameworks on aworldwide basis. The CCR brings together non-governmental organizations, jurisdictions, academicinstitutions,corporations,andnon-pro6itorganizationsincludingfoundations.

    Knowledge, Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning

    CCRseeksaholisticapproach todeeply redesigning thecurriculum,byofferinga complete frameworkacrossthefourdimensionsofaneducation:knowledge,skills,character,andmeta-learning.Knowledgemuststrikeabetterbalancebetweentraditionalandmodernsubjects,aswellasinterdisciplinarity.Skillsrelate to the use of knowledge, and engage in a feedback loop with knowledge. Character qualitiesdescribe how one engageswith, and behaves in, theworld.Meta-Learning fosters the process of self-re6lectionandlearninghowtolearn,aswellasthebuildingoftheotherthreedimensions.

    To learn more about the work and focus of the Center for Curriculum Redesign, please visit our website at www.curriculumredesign.org/about/background

    ii

    http://www.curriculumredesign.org/about/background

  • CharacterEducationforthe21stCentury CCR www.curriculumredesign.org 1

    Why Meta-Learning

    Theilliterateofthetwenty-firstcenturywillnotbethosewhocannotreadandwrite,butthosewhocannotlearn,unlearnandrelearn.

    PsychologistHerbertGerjuoyasquotedbyAlvinToffler,Futurist,inFutureShock(1970)1

    Weareseeingthegrowingneed,fromtheeducationcommunityatlargeandfromarapidlygrowingresearchbase in the learning sciences, to expand themeaning, purpose, and goals of education, and to holisticallytransform students learning experiences, motivations and outcomes. The world is changing ever morerapidly,anditisbecomingclearthatpreparingchildrenfortodaysworld,muchlesstheworldofadultspast,isalosingstrategy.Theywillbegraduatingoveradecadelaterintoaverydifferentworldwithverydifferentchallengesandopportunities.

    Inaddition to redesigning relevantknowledge, skills, andcharacterqualitiesnecessary for the twenty-firstcentury,webelieve that thereneeds tobeameta layerofeducation, inwhichstudentspractice reflection,learn about their learning, internalize a growthmindset that encourages them to strive, and learn how toadapt their learning and behavior based on their goals. The OECD has described this dimension asreflectiveness.TheEUReferenceFrameworkofKeyCompetencies,theHewlettFoundationDeeperLearningCompetencies,andtheAssessmentandTeachingofTwenty-FirstCenturySkillsallrefertoitaslearninghowtolearn.(seetableintheBeyondKnowledgesection).

    Thesurestwaytopreparestudentsforachangingworldistogivethemthetoolstobeversatile,reflective,self-directedandself-reliant.

    Metacognition Reflecting on Learning Goals, Strategies, and Results

    Metacognition,simplyput,istheprocessofthinkingaboutthinking.Itisimportantineveryaspectofschoolandlife,sinceitinvolvesself-reflectionononescurrentposition,futuregoals,potentialactionsandstrategies,andresults.Atitscore,itisabasicsurvivalstrategy,andhasbeenshowntobepresenteveninrats.2Perhapsthemostimportantreasonfordevelopingmetacognitionisthatitcanimprovetheapplicationofknowledge,skills,andcharacterqualitiesinrealmsbeyondtheimmediatecontextinwhichtheywerelearned.3Thiscanresultinthetransferofcompetenciesacrossdisciplinesimportantforstudentspreparingforreal-lifesituationswhereclear-cutdivisionsofdisciplinesfallawayandonemustselectcompetenciesfromtheentiregamutoftheirexperiencetoeffectivelyapplythemtothechallengesathand.

    1 Flexnib, That Alvin Toffler Quotation, www.flexnib.com/2013/07/03/that-alvin-toffler-quotation

    2 Rats were presented with a task that they could choose to decline; they received a higher reward if they declined than if they failed the task. As expected, the frequency of declining increased with the difficulty of the task, and accuracy was higher on trials where the rats chose to complete the task compared with trials when they were forced to. See A. L. Foote & J. D. Crystal, Metacognition in the Rat, Current Biology 17, no. 6 (2007): 551555.

    3 Gregory Schraw and David Moshman, Metacognitive Theories, Educational Psychology Papers and Publications, Paper 40 (1995).

  • CharacterEducationforthe21stCentury CCR www.curriculumredesign.org 2

    Evenwithinacademicsettings,itisvaluableandoftennecessarytoapplyprinciplesandmethodsacrossdisciplinarylines.Transfercanalsobenecessarywithinadiscipline,suchaswhenaparticularideaorskillwaslearnedwithoneexample,butstudentsmustknowhowtoapplyittoanothertasktocompletetheirhomeworkorexams,andyetanothercontext.Transferistheultimategoalofalleducation,asstudentsareexpectedtointernalizewhattheylearninschoolandapplyittolife.

    Toillustratethevalueofmetacognitionandhowitactuallyplaysaroleinlearning,wecanconsideranexamplefrommathematics,whereithasbeenshownthatmetacognitionplaysacentralroleinlearningandachievement.4Specifically,whennovicestudentswerecomparedtoseasonedmathematicians,thestudentsselectedaseeminglyusefulstrategyandcontinuedtoapplyitwithoutcheckingtoseeifthestrategyofchoicewasactuallyworkingwell.Thus,asignificantamountoftimewaswastedinfruitlesspursuits.Themoreexperiencedmathematiciansontheotherhand,exercisedmetacognition,monitoringtheirapproachallalongthewaytoseeifitwasactuallyleadingtoasolutionormerelytoadeadend.5Beingawareofhowoneisengagingwiththeprocessoflearninginfluenceshowthestudentinterpretsthetaskathand,andwhatstrategiesareselectedandemployedinserviceofachievinglearninggoals.Itcanhelpoptimizetheproblem-solvingexperienceataveryhighlevel,andisthusapplicableacrossalargerangeofcontexts.Thesemetacognitivestrategiesarepowerfultoolsforanydiscipline,inter-disciplineorforlearningingeneral.Ofcourse,withsuchanabstractlearninggoal,itisimportantforeducatorstobeprecisewithhowtheyteachit.Traditionalmethodsforimprovingstudentslearningstrategiesoftenfocusonprescribedprocedures(note-taking,self-testing,scheduling,etc.)andtypicallyresultininitialmotivationandsomeshort-termimprovement,butultimatelyareversiontooldhabitshappens.6Whilethesetacticsmayworkintheshortterm(e.g.,tocramforanexam),oncethecontextchanges,successfultransferofthesemethodsislesslikelytooccur.Morestrategicmethodsthatfocusonmetacognitionfordeeperlearningsuchasdevelopinga

    4 Z. Mevarech, and B. Kramarski, Critical Maths for Innovative Societies: The Role of Metacognitive Pedagogies (Paris, France: OECD

    Publishing, 2014).

    5 A. Gourgey, Metacognition in Basic Skills Instruction, Instructional Science 26, no. 1 (1998): 8196.

    6 E. Martin, & P. Ramsden, Learning Skills and Skill in Learning, in J.T.E. Richardson, M. Eysenck, & D. Warren-Piper (Eds.), Student Learning: Research in Education and Cognitive Psychology (Guildford, Surrey: Society for Research into Higher Education & NFER-Nelson, 1986) as cited in J. Biggs, The Role of Metacognition in Enhancing Learning, Australian Journal of Education 32, no. 2, (1988): 127138.

  • CharacterEducationforthe21stCentury CCR www.curriculumredesign.org 3

    growthmindset(discussedlater),settingandmonitoringoneslearninggoals,andgrowingonescapacitytopersistdespitedifficultieshavebeenshowntoresultinmorepermanentlearninggains.7Itisimportanttonotethatsincemetacognitioninvolveshigher-levelthinkingoverseeinglower-levelthoughts,thereisactuallyarangeofmentalprocessesthatfallunderitsdefinition.Effectsofmetacognitivetrainingvarybasedonwhatkindoflower-levelthoughtsarebeingoverseen,andhowtheyarebeingoverseen.Researchhasidentifiedthreelevelsofreportingonmetacognitiveprocesses:

    1.Verbalizationofknowledgethatisalreadyinaverbalstate(suchasrecallingwhathappenedinastory).2.Verbalizationofnonverbalknowledge(suchasrecallinghowonesolvedaRubiksCube).3.Verbalizationofexplanationsofverbalornonverbalknowledge(suchasexplaininghowonemakesuseoftherhetoricalstructuresofastoryasonereads).

    Onlythisthirdlevelofmetacognitiveprocesshasbeenlinkedtoimprovedresultsinproblemsolving.8Metacognitioncanbedevelopedinstud