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Critical Maths for Innovative Societies

The Role of Metacognitive Pedagogies

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How can mathematics education foster the skills that are appropriate for innovative societies? Mathematics education is heavily emphasised worldwide, nevertheless it is still considered to be a stumbling block for many students. While there is almost a consensus that mathematics problems appropriate for the 21st century should be complex, unfamiliar and non-routine (CUN), most of the textbooks still mainly include routine problems based on the application of ready-made algorithms.

The time has come to introduce innovative instructional methods in order to enhance mathematics education and students’ ability to solve CUN tasks. Metacognitive pedagogies can play a key role in this. These pedagogies explicitly train students to “think about their thinking” during learning. They can be used to improve not just academic achievement (content knowledge and understanding, the ability to handle unfamiliar problems etc.) but also affective outcomes such as reduced anxiety or improved motivation. This strong relationship between metacognition and schooling outcomes has implications for the education community and policy makers.

This book is designed to assist practitioners, curriculum developers and policy makers alike in preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s world.

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Metacognitive pedagogies

Can metacognition be taught? And if so, what are the conditions that can facilitate metacognitive application in the classroom? While the research shows that metacognition can be successfully taught, implicit guidance is not enough. Co-operative learning should help to foster metacognition by providing ample opportunities for students to articulate their thinking and be involved in mutual reasoning, nevertheless students still have to be taught how to apply these processes and also intensively practise them. Effective metacognitive guidance needs to be explicit, embedded in the subject matter, involve prolonged training, and inform learners of its benefits. A number of methodologies for teaching metacognition have been developed, all of which use social interactions and selfdirected questioning in order to encourage learners to be aware of their metacognitive processes and apply these processes in learning.

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