- by Mount Saint Mary College

Mount faculty and staff recently published a five-part blog series titled "Integrating Reflection into Our Everyday Practices with Authenticity: A Discussion Series on Metacognition."

Metacognition refers to the awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes, especially when engaged in learning.

The series was published in Improve with Metacognition – an online magazine that primarily focuses on the process of learning academic skills, with an emphasis on metacognition related to learning within the higher education environment. Learn more at

Mount faculty and staff wrote to encourage metacognition as a reflective awareness tool both students and educators can use to self-regulate behaviors when working to pursue a goal – such as their common goal of a more fully engaged learning environment. Each piece in the mini-series leaves the reader with this significant takeaway: the ability to look inside one's self, ask thoughtful questions, and answer those questions honestly is our greatest asset in being of service to others. Read the entire blog series on Improve with Metacognition here (scroll to Early Autumn 2020):

Charles Zola, associate professor of Philosophy, director of the Catholic and Dominican Institute, and assistant to the President in Mission Integration, connects the link between metacognition and the Dominican tradition in his piece "Contemplation and Service as Metacognition: The Dominican Scholars of Hope."

Headshot of Charles Zola, associate professor of Philosophy, director of the Catholic and Dominican Institute, and assistant to the President in Mission Integration

Zola discusses the objectives of the Dominican Scholars of Hope (DSH) programming. Rooted in the values of the Judeo-Christian and Dominican heritage of the college, the DSH is a nonacademic living and learning community for highly motivated Mount students. Zola explains a goal is to "cultivate a contemplative disposition in the students, guiding and encouraging them to develop habits of mind and heart that align with the practices and outcomes of metacognition, cultivating awareness and using that awareness to guide actions."

By correlating metacognition – essentially a tool used in gaining self-awareness – to the Dominican tradition of gaining deeper awareness of self, the world, and God through understanding spirituality, Zola makes the connection that our journey to self deeply links to life's greater questions concerning meaning and purpose.

Headshot of Gina Evers, director of the Writing CenterAs the director of the Writing Center, Gina Evers must evolve her staff of tutors from students to teachers. In her article "Training Tutor-Learners in Contemplation: Reflection in the Writing Center," Evers explores the significance of reflective practice.

She explains, "When my tutors engage in authentic and honest self-observation, reflection, and ultimately metacognition during our staff meetings, they demonstrate the requisite skill to be effective teachers of writing."

Evers states that her staff's ability to reflect on their past tutoring sessions and their own writing – recognizing what went well and where they can improve – before moving forward is necessary to becoming a well-trained writing tutor.

Marie-Therese Sulit, associate professor of English and director of the Mount's Honors Program, writesHeadshot of Marie-Therese Sulit, associate professor of English and director of the Mount's Honors Program in her blog post titled "Reflection Matters: Using Metacognition to Track a Moving Target," that within the first two weeks of classes, she gives out a set of assignments that connect reflection with metacognition – a process upheld throughout the course to asses where students are versus where they need to be by the end of the semester.

On any given day, Sulit engages students in their own self-reflection with questions such as: What works? What does not work? What needs to be amended, revised, and/or updated altogether?

Sulit's second post in the mini-series, titled "Identity Matters: Creating Brave Spaces through Disputatio and Discernment," aims to highlight disputatio, a method of disputation intended to seek truth, as a contemplative practice particular to Dominican colleges and universities such as the Mount.

Headshot of Megan Morrissey, assistant director of Student SuccessMegan Morrissey, assistant director of Student Success, explains in her post "Metacognition in First Year Students" that high school students are often prepared to retain information for an upcoming test but not always prepared to immerse themselves in the material, as college professors often want students to do.

"What scared my students the most was their faculty encouraging them to ask questions in class and/or share their informed opinions on what they thought about the material," she writes.

In the conclusion of her piece, Morrissey notes that metacognitive skills assist students in building self-confidence in and out of the classroom.

She explains, "In bridging reflective practices with the development of students' metacognitive skills, the power, for me, lies in asking purposeful, thoughtful questions and, thus, guiding them as they confront their fear of asking questions."


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