Sunday, March 10, 2013

Understanding the Development of Self-Reflection

Thinking about thinking is an important component of problem solving in life. The more accurately we can reflect upon our skills the stronger our strategic approaches and potential successes in life. As we age, many of us will become more self-reflective and more accurate in understanding our strengths and weaknesses. Research helps highlight how age brings wisdom in understanding oneself and our unique approaches to learning about ourselves in life and society. 

Awareness and evaluation of one’s own thinking and learning process is called metacognition. Meta meaning about self and cognition meaning thinking. Metacognition is comprised of 1.) knowledge of self, 2.) knowledge of task, and 3.) knowledge of strategies. It is this understanding of one’s abilities, the tasks that need to be completed and the strategies of achieving goals that give such persons an advantage in life. 

As people age they become more self-aware and reflective of their behavior (Vukman, 2005). Through time, this self-awareness also increases the ability of people to accurately describe and reflect upon their behavior and mannerisms. This awareness also creates higher levels of self-development and opportunities for learning
Those students who have higher levels of metacognition also have greater abilities to adjust their approaches to problems to find solutions. Through self-reflection, such individuals can either keep current strategies or adjust future strategies to have optimal outcomes (Hartman, 2001). It is this superior cognitive monitoring that creates stronger performance levels, which supersede the ability of many of their peers. 

Evaluating people’s metacognition can contribute to how people develop this sense of self and how it progresses through life. It also has the potential to tell research about when a person become reflective of their behavior and when they are more able to control their actions. People with high levels of metacognition act in deliberative ways to accomplish their goals. 

Research conducted by Vukman (2012) included 282 participants 13-15, 23-25, 33-35, 43-45 years of age.  Each group was tested on two constructs that include reasoning and meta-cognitive self-evaluation of achievement. Reasoning included spatial, verbal/logical and social reasoning. Meta-cognitive self-evaluation of achievement included 9 tasks and follow up questions that associated actual performance with subjective levels of performance. 


-Accuracy of self-evaluation increases with age.

-Men were more accurate than women in self-evaluations.

-self evaluations were more accurate in spatial, then verbal and followed by social reasoning.

-Social reasoning was ambiguous and therefore difficult for people to define.


As people mature, they become more accurate in their self-evaluations of performance. The research indicates that people learn skills and are better able to judge their performances based years of gained experience that comes with age. The most difficult of the three constructs to self-evaluate are social reasoning due to its complex and ambiguous nature. Yet the more experience a person gains the more accurate they are in judging social affairs. To help employees gain a better perspective of themselves and their abilities it is necessary to provide accurate performance appraisals to help anchor subjective experience. 

Author: Dr. Murad Abel

Hartman, h. J. (2001). Metacognition in learning and instruction: Theory research and practice. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Vukman, K. (2005). Developmental different in metacognition and their connections with cognitive development in adulthood. Journal of Adult Development, 12 (4).

Vukman, K. (2012). Metacognition accuracy and  learning to learn: A developmental perspective. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 46 (15).
Understanding the Development of Self-Reflection

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