Metacognition involves metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive skills. Metacognitive knowledge refers to the declarative knowledge about person, task, and strategy in a learner’s long memory. The person means the learner thinks herself/himself is a better problem solver when she/he is working in some issues. The task means the learner knows herself/himself solved these kinds of problems before, or she/he knows how to manage different types of task. The strategies is the knowledge how to approach certain kinds of problem and which strategy to be used (videolecture by Hurme, 2013).
Metacognitive skills refers to the learner can use procedural knowledge deliberately to control cognition in the process of problem solving. She/he plans to select relevant knowledge and strategies to solve the problem, evaluates the correctness of the answer, monitors the conceptions and definitions, and allocates her/his efforts and time effectively (videolecture by Hurme, 2013).
In CSCL, the individual metacognition should be shared among group members in the process of activities. The socially shared metacognition happens when a group member’s metacognitive regulation messages contribute to the discourse about how to carry on a task and take efforts in the group problem-solving so that other group members acknowledge and develop the message deeply (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009).
The socially shared metacognition takes place during the interaction of group work. When socially shared metacognition occurs, group members must report their thinking or make their thinking visible with clear sentences and acknowledge other members’ ideas or opinions. In order to develop every member’s awareness of the task, the group members should be active to argumentation and explanation in the process. Except for making the thinking visible, the group members also need to present their feelings to each other which are able to activate group members to adjust their own thinking and feelings when they are working. If group members can reassure each other and interact actively for problem solving, the feeling of difficulties will decrease (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009).
Socially shared metacognition demands a metacognitive regulation message to manage, interrupt, change, or promote the continuous procedure of group task. The metacognitive regulation message is not only related to and focuses on the earlier or continuing communication, but also has an explicit explanation (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009).
In collaborative learning, each member should give a reply to other member’s message. For instance, when a group member sends a metacognitive regulation message to manage and encourage other members’ comprehension regulation, but other group members do not reply to this metacognitive message or only supply a quick answer. These kinds of students’ action cannot represent their thoughts or feelings correctly about the message from the group member and is not meaningful to the problem solving collaboratively (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009).
However, if the group members can share the ideas and procedures about how to solve a problem, and communicate about which approach is accurate when meeting some difficulty, it will be helpful and significant for problem solving in the collaborative learning situations. In fact, the metacognitive messages can improve group members’ comprehension if their responses are on the basis of providing rationale for their ideas and discussion in clear sentences (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009). It is known that interaction in collaborative learning process can make problem-solving easier and more efficient.
How to guarantee the metacognitive regulation message can work successfully in the collaborative learning process? That also depends on the individual’s prior metacognitive knowledge and skills. The prior metacognitive knowledge and skills can help group members to analyze the task in a right way, share knowledge and argument how to solve the problem, provide contribution to the task, and understand how the problem can be solved (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009). On the contrary, the lack of prior knowledge and skills may hinder group members to discuss and analyze the task, support understanding of the problem, emerge negative emotion and motivation, and even reject working in the collaborative learning environments.
In addition, the cognitive message and social message are also play important roles in the collaborative learning settings. The cognitive message is defined as a note which related to the problem solving, but do not include any explanation. The cognitive message involves analysis, exploration, implementation, and verifying. The social message contains statements that are not related to the problem, agreement, or disagreement without altercation (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009).
Through the cases study, it is able to present several details of the comparison about group members’ behaviors in successful and unsuccessful social shared metacognition in a CSCL environment (Hurme, Merenluoto, & Järvelä, 2009).
Successful social share metacognition in a CSCL environment:
•Work together and attempt to solve the problem
•Activate prior metacognitive knowledge and skills
•Discuss and acknowledge important ideas
•Describe the thinking process correctly and clearly
•Make thinking and feeling visible
•Keep awareness of participation
•Get support from other members
•Adjust thinking to coincide with group process
Unsuccessful social share metacognition in a CSCL environment:
•Interaction in a superficial level
•Lack of metacognitive knowledge and skills
•Little argumentation for the thinking
•No acknowledgement for the crucial message
•No elaboration of the thinking and ideas
•Thinking and feeling are invisible
Hurme, Tarja-Riitta, Merenluoto Kaarina, & Järvelä Saana (2009). Socially shared metacognition of pre-service primary teachers in a computer-supported mathematics course and their feelings of task difficulty: a case study. Educational Research and Evaluation, Vol 15, No.5, 503-524
Videolecture by Hurme Tarja-Riitta: Metacognition and Problem Solving in CSCL