Metacognitive skills and sense making in Blogging

Metacognitive skills are essential for successful learning.   It is the “thinking about thinking”, and involves an awareness of how I learn and what I need to do to control my learning and thinking processes.  This skill is expecially important for educator- bloggers.

Metacognition refers to a level of thinking that involves active control over the process of thinking that is used in learning situations. Planning the way to approach a learning task, monitoring comprehension, and evaluating the progress towards the completion of a task: these are skills that are metacognitive in their nature. Similarly, maintaining motivation to see a task to completion is also a metacognitive skill. The ability to become aware of distracting stimuli – both internal and external – and sustain effort over time also involves metacognitive or executive functions. The theory that metacognition has a critical role to play in successful learning means it is important that it be demonstrated by both students and teachers. Students who demonstrate a wide range of metacognitive skills perform better on exams and complete work more efficiently. They are self-regulated learners who utilize the “right tool for the job” and modify learning strategies and skills based on their awareness of effectiveness. Individuals with a high level of metacognitive knowledge and skill identify blocks to learning as early as possible and change “tools” or strategies to ensure goal attainment. The metacognologist is aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, the nature of the task at hand, and available “tools” or skills.

An individuals’ metacognitive capability strongly influences their attitudes, levels of motivation and resulting behaviour in term of tackling new tasks at hand.  This explains the importance of refining the metacognitive skills so that learning would be based on ontology.  Would this be the reason for bloggers to create new posts (the new tasks)?

Sensemaking  – Individuals are required to make sense of unpredictable situations that arise.  To do so, they draw on their previous experiences and their stores of knowledge.  This process is called sensemaking.

Sensemaking is the ability or attempt to make sense of an ambiguous situation. More exactly, sensemaking is the process of creating situational awareness and understanding in situations of high complexity or uncertainty in order to make decisions. It is “a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively” (Klein et al, 2006a).

Sensemaking in individuals and organizations

In individuals, sensemaking is the largely cognitive activity of constructing a hypothetical mental model of the current situation and how it might evolve over time, what threats and opportunities for each action are likely to emerge from this evolution, what potential actions can be taken in response, what the projected outcomes of those responses are, and what values drive the choice of future action. In organizations, sensemaking is a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests. The process of moving from situational awareness in individuals to shared awareness and understanding to collaborative decision-making can be considered a socio-cognitive activity in that the individual’s cognitive activities are directly impacted by the social nature of the exchange and vice versa.

Klein et al (2006b) have presented a theory of sensemaking as a set of processes that is initiated when an individual or organization recognizes the inadequacy of their current understanding of events. Sensemaking is an active two-way process of fitting data into a frame (mental model) and fitting a frame around the data. Neither data nor frame comes first; data evoke frames and frames select and connect data. When there is no adequate fit, the data may be reconsidered or an existing frame may be revised.

When I reflect upon what happens when I interact and communicate with others using our blogs, I realise that I am employing  this sensemaking to understand the connections, act and react, and respond to comments from bloggers.  This sensemaking becomes more like an art in that it embraces ones’ ability to turn blogs into powerful individual learning tools (and that it forms part of the Personal Learning Environment)- for personal reflection, engagement with peers, collaboration with others,  and portfolios of learning.

Do these help me in becoming a sensemaking blogger?  How about you?

Postscript:

Ontological approaches

Social scientists adopt one of four main ontological approaches: realism (the idea that facts are out there just waiting to be discovered), empiricism (the idea that we can observe the world and evaluate those observations in relation to facts), positivism (which focuses on the observations themselves, attentive more to claims about facts than to facts themselves), and post-modernism (which holds that facts are fluid and elusive, so we should focus only on our observational claims).

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