Metacognitive reflection about the learning process must satisfy some conditions in order to be effective. First, learners must recognize their initial conceptions about law and criminal justice. Because most of these conceptions are implicit, the learner must reflect about them and get to explain them. Second, the learner must evaluate his or her conceptions and beliefs in light of the new conceptions that are being learned. Third, the learner must decide—consciously or unconsciously—whether or not he or she will restructure his or her initial conceptions (Carretero, 2009). For this purpose, students need information about their learning processes. We need to create opportunities for students to receive information from multiple sources, including peers, lawyers, criminal justice professionals, and other experts. For example, students could engage in tasks that legal and criminal justice professionals usually do. These professionals could observe the students and provide them with constructive feedback. Students should also leant to make pauses in then activities and reflect about them.
Like other phases of the deep learning process, metacognition entails both individual and social instances. The learner must find moments to reflect alone but must also seek opportunities to reflect about the learning process with peers.
GENERAL METACOGNITIVE QUESTIONS
Metacognitive tools are both general and discipline specific. General metacognition categories deal with how learners construct knowledge. A good way to present metacognitive tools to students is through questions that they can ask themselves throughout the learning process. These questions apply to virtually any academic discipline and not just to law or criminal justice. The following questions can be used with respect to any problem, question, or situation embedded in the input story that students deal with in any discipline.
TABLE 7.1 General Metacognitive Categories of Analysis.
- (1) What do I know abotit this problem, question, or situation? What is my first reaction or gut feeling? How can I instinctively solve the problem, answer the question, or analyze the situation now?
- (2) What new information or knowledge do I need in order to solve the problem, answer the question, or analyze the situation effectively?
- (3) What conversations and discussions do I need to have with my peers about the problem, question, or situation?
- (4) What analysis do I need to do with the new information or knowledge?
- (5) How can I relate what I already know and the new information or knowledge? What connections can I make?
- (6) How can I solve the problem, answer the question, or analyze the situation now?
- (7) How do my gender, race, ethnicity, and other social factors influence my solution to the problem, answer to the question, or analysis of the situation?
- (8) How does my new solution, answer, or analysis differ from my original, gut-feeling, response?
TABLE 7.1 (Continued)
- (9) Ain I aware of mental mechanisms, such as priming, stereotyping, the mere exposure effect, and mental methods that deal with anomalies, contradictions, and gaps in the input story that may be affecting my understanding of the input story or the solution to the problem, answer to the question, or analysis of the situation?
- (10) What do I know now that I did not know before about the problem, question, or situation? What can I do now that I could not do before?
- (11) What do I know now about the discipline that I did not know before? What connections can I now make to the general framework of the discipline? What connections can I now make to other disciplines?
- (12) How can I use what I now know to solve other problems, answer other questions, or analyze other situations in the discipline? How can I transfer what I now know outside the discipline? How can what I now know help me solve everyday problems, answer everyday questions, and analyze everyday situations?
- (13) Where does this new knowledge place me within the discipline? What conversations can I now have with my peers and the discipline?
- (14) How has knowing what I now know impacted me? How does my solution, answer, or analysis affect me and others? How have I felt throughout this process? What emotions have I experienced? Does knowing what I know now change my attitude toward other people I know outside the discipline or outside academia?
- (15) What new questions do I have now about the original problem, question, or situation? What new questions do I have now about the discipline? What new personal goals do I now have about the discipline?