DISCIPLINE-SPECIFIC METACOGNITIVE QUESTIONS

Discipline-specific metacognitive categories have to do with the way law or criminal justice organizes and constructs knowledge, what questions the discipline asks, what method it uses to generate knowledge, what kind of conversation its members engage in, and what limitations the discipline has. It also deals with knowledge about the hidden structure of the discipline, that is to say, the layered characteristics of the discipline that lie beyond the surface (Perkins, 2009).

A good way to help students reflect about discipline-specific metacognitive categories is through questions. Table 7.2 shows some examples of metacognitive questions to assist in the reflection on the analysis of judicial court opinions. Table 7.3 contains some questions for the metacognitive reflection of problems and situations from diverse legal perspectives and legal traditions. Table 7.4 includes metacognitive questions designed to help students reflect about their learning process in criminal justice courses.

You can create similar questions for the reflection about the learning of other legal and criminal justice skills, concepts, and methods. All these questions give a general idea of how to formulate other metacognitive questions. They can be adapted to specific circumstances and learning goals. Not all questions will be relevant for every single issue that stirdents are learning. You should discard those questions that are irrelevant and add new ones that suit what you want your students to deal with. For some stirdents, these questions may be too detailed. For others, they may be too vague. Ideally, stirdents should gradually leant to create new questions that will help them think about their own thinking and learning so that they can use the standards of the legal and criminal justice disciplines to recognize shortcomings and correct their reasoning as they go.

TABLE 7.2 Metacognitive Questions for Rule-Based Analysis of Judicial Cases.

  • (1) Does tire rule-based analysis originate from a case or a statute? How does this affect the analysis?
  • (2) What is the rule? Which conception of rule am I dealing with?
  • (3) What are the elements of the rule? Are all the elements present in the case?
  • (4) What is the result?
  • (5) What is the causal connection (mandatory, prohibitory, and discretionary) between the elements and the result?
  • (6) Does tire rule have any exceptions that would defeat the result even if all the elements are present?
  • (7) In which way does the legal rule treat the elements (all required elements, alternative elements, or factor test)? If there is a factor test, what are the competing interests that have to be balanced and weighed to reach the conclusion determined by the rule?
  • (8) Can I prove each element of the rule to be true or false?
  • (9) Does tire rule apply to the given set of facts?
  • (10) Can I break down the elements of the rule into separate elements? Can I match the facts and circumstances of the case with each element of the rule to see if the element is proven?
  • (a) Does this fact prove or disprove an element of the rule?
  • (b) Does this particular circumstance prove or disprove the element of the rule?
  • (c) Do the facts suggest a counterargument?

TABLE 7.3 Metacognitive Questions for the Analysis of Problems and Situations from Diverse Legal Perspectives and Legal Traditions.

  • (1) Am I approaching the problem, question, or situation under several notions of law or only under legal positivism?
  • (2) Am I exploring comparative law solutions? Am I taking into account international aspects of the problem, question, or situation?
  • (3) Am I making connections to other legal phenomena, or am I only analyzing the problem, question, or situation in isolation?
  • (4) Am I applying or taking into consideration the relevant legal theory/ies, or am I simply analyzing the problem, question, or situation from my common sense?
  • (5) Am I taking into consideration the contributions of other social sciences to the problem, question, or situation? Or am I analyzing it exclusively from a legal perspective?
  • (6) Am I considering the implications and applications of the problem, question, or situation, including policy considerations, or am I simply coming to conclusions without taking into account the implications and applications of the problem, question, or situation?
  • (7) Am I critically analyzing the reasoning method surrounding the problem, question, or situation, or am I just taking for granted the validity of the reasoning method?

TABLE 7.4 Metacognitive Questions for Criminal Justice.

  • (1) What is the criminal justice model that underlines my understanding of the problem, question, or situation? Is the problem, question, or situation explained under a certain criminal justice model? Would I see it differently if I approached the problem, question, or situation from a different criminal justice model?
  • (2) What is the notion of crime that underlines my understanding of the problem, question, or situation? Is the problem, question, or situation explained under a certain notion of crime, perhaps the mainstream, legalistic, notion of crime? Would I see it differently if I approached the problem, question, or situation from a different notion of crime?
  • (3) What criminology theory underlines my understanding of the problem, question, or situation? Is the problem, question, or situation explained under a certain criminological view/theory? Would I see it differently if I approached the problem, question, or situation from a different criminological view or theory?
  • (4) If statistics are involved, am I aware of the possible flaws in the collection of criminal data? Would my understanding of the problem, question, or situation change if the statistics were not correct?

TABLE 7.4 (Continued)

  • (5) Is the problem, question, or situation affected by criminal justice bias? For example, if minority groups are being arr ested more in a certain ar ea, does this mean that they are committing more crimes, or are the police arresting minority groups more than mainstream individuals?
  • (6) Am I making connections to other criminal problems, questions, or situations, or am I only analyzing the problem, question, or situation in isolation?
  • (7) Am I applying or taking into consideration criminological theories or criminal justice theoretical models, or am I simply analyzing the problem, question, or situation from my common sense?
  • (8) Am I considering the implications and applications of the problem, question, or situation, or am I simply coming to conclusions without taking into account the implications and applications of the problem, question, or situation?
  • (9) Am I critically analyzing the reasoning method surrounding the problem, or am I just taking for granted the validity of the reasoning method?
  • (10) Am I exploring solutions to the problem in other countries? Am I taking into account any international aspects of the problem?
 
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