Metacognition

An article from EurekAlert titled ‘Recent research on memory/learning’ talked about a paper written by Nate Kornell. The paper’s main focus was metacognition. The textbook says that metacognition is important to the memory. According to Kornell metacognition is “the process of making judgements about one’s cognition and about one’s memory.” Kornell mentions something that we have been talking about most of the semester and that is that memory can be unreliable. Kornell opens the paper by saying that the human memory is prone to stability bias where we act as though our minds are stable and will continue to be stable in the future. By failing to recognize that our memories are influenced by external factors. The paper itself mainly focuses on metamemory. The book defines metamemory as an individual’s knowledge of and control over their own memory.

This semester we also talked about memory cues. In Kornell’s paper he discussed intrinsic cues, which is information that is being judged, mnemonic cues, information that is related to the person’s experience, and extrinsic cues, information that will be learned. These are described because they are thought to be part of metacognitive judgements. Metacognitive judgements are judgements that we make based on our memories.

Kornell says that metacognitive judgements seem to be influenced a lot by an individual’s experience at the time they are making a judgement. For this reason intrinsic and mnemonic cues happen relatively automatically.

Kornell’s study tested recall of the participants. He gave the participants a list of words and then tested their recall. He wanted to see if participants could remember the second word in the list if they were giving the first word of the list as a cue. Participants in the study showed stability bias because they thought that they would remember even though some of them did not get tested on their recall until a week later. However, they were confident that they would remember.

The conclusion of the study was that humans overestimate their learning and retention ability and do not take into account environmental factors that can affect memory. We discussed in class how memory is unreliable and this study supports that.