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Old 08-01-2003, 07:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Metacognition... How do you "know" something?

I've become very interested in finding out about my students' metacognition, i.e. the point at which they "know" something. When they know something, they can stop studying for a test, for example.

How do you know when you've learned a subject well enough to stop studying for a test? NOTE: I'm not talking about memorizing dates and basic facts, but being able to inform another person of what you know and having that person understand.

Several of my co-workers don't think that elementary-aged students can learn much more than rote memorization. I disagree wholeheartedly; my students know that when they answer a question, they will be asked another to make sure they understand the concepts behind the facts.

So... how do you "Know when you Know?"
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Old 08-01-2003, 07:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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after the initial learning process, i think "re-studying" it within 24 hours is meant to help you retain it by about 60% better. (something my old principal used to tell us) so if you run through something a few times, it probly wouldnt take that long to actaully "know" it
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Old 08-01-2003, 08:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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are you referring to what age you are able to do this or how many times do you have to reread something until you understand it well?
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Old 08-01-2003, 02:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've always gone by the rule that you don't know something until you can explain it to someone else well enough that they will understand it correctly.
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Old 08-01-2003, 10:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Fastshark85's rule seems to be a pretty good idea. But, i also think that there is some point where you just understand something and are confidant in using that knowledge in different situations.

But truly i think the path towards learning only begins with wanting to learn. If you don't have the will to learn, memorizing is all that will ever get done.
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Old 08-01-2003, 10:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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When you can explain it to someone else. Or, when you grasp the principal well enough that you can identify unfamiliar contexts where it can be applied, and then apply it.

I'm in a certificate program right now, and I have some professors who would seize your rote-learning colleges by the heels and dangle them over a pit full of rabid middle-school principals.
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Old 08-02-2003, 08:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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When I can explain something in a manner that leaves no hole or room for questioning as to what it means, for it has been explained so completely as long as you know the definitions of the words you will understand.

Yeup, that's how I know.
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Old 08-04-2003, 07:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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These seem like pretty good definitions of knowing. I don't like the implied correlation between knowledge on topic A and the ability to communicate or even teach though.

Two counter-examples would be:

- The person that stutters or otherwise can't communicate effectively.

- The professor that can expound upon every aspect of an idea, but not in a way that most students could grasp


To me being able to answer unplanned questions after the explanation is more reasonable gauge then measuring the initial explanation. As learning a complex topic and learning how to teach said complex topic are two different things.
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Old 08-06-2003, 10:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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It seems to me that you're trying to codify something that isn't that black and white. After all, plenty of people think they know a topic but may actually be giving out incorrect information. An excellent illustration of this would be the creationist who thinks he/she knows evolution and modern biology is a bunch of malarky, but that "knowledge" is based on a poor understanding of the subject matter. Just because someone thinks they know a subject does not necessarily mean they do.

Just my .02
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Old 08-06-2003, 09:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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wait 24 hours, then do a few randomly generated practice exams. if the sample of questions is varied enough, then the average score is a pretty good indication to me about how much i know a subject.
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