top of page

What the Heck is Metacognition? An Outdoor Education Perspective.

Welcome to Outdoortopia! Today, we embark on an exciting blog journey of exploration, uncovering the wonders of metacognition and its special connection to outdoor education. So, grab your gear and prepare to dive into a world where self-awareness meets the great outdoors!


What is Metacognition?


So what is metacognition? Imagine having a superpower that allows you to understand your own thinking, learning, and problem-solving processes. That superpower is metacognition! In simple terms, metacognition is the ability to think about your own thinking. It involves being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and strategies while engaging in a learning task.


What is metacognition and how does it connect to outdoor education?
What is metacognition and how does it connect to outdoor education?

Outdoor learning takes education beyond the confines of a classroom and embraces the boundless beauty of nature. It's a powerful way to connect learners with their surroundings, encouraging curiosity, exploration, and hands-on learning experiences. Whether it's hiking through a forest, observing wildlife, or studying the stars on a clear night, the outdoors offer an endless array of opportunities for discovery.


In simple terms, metacognition is the ability to think about your own thinking. It involves being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and strategies while engaging in a learning task.

The Intersection of Metacognition & Outdoor Education


Now, let's bring metacognition into the picture and see how it enhances the outdoor learning experience:


1. Reflection & Observation

In the great outdoors, metacognition thrives as learners reflect on their experiences and observe the world around them. It's a chance to pause, absorb, and contemplate. By asking questions like "What do I notice?" or "What surprises me?", learners develop a deeper understanding of their environment and their own thoughts.


2. Goal Setting & Planning

Metacognition empowers learners to set goals and devise action plans for their outdoor adventures. They can consider their strengths, weaknesses, and previous experiences to plan an approach that maximises their learning. By setting clear intentions, they cultivate a sense of purpose and direction, ensuring their time outdoors is both enjoyable and educational.


Self-awareness and reflection in outdoor education.
Reflection and observation are important aspects of metacognition in outdoor education.

3. Problem Solving & Adaptability

Nature is full of surprises and challenges, and metacognition equips learners with the ability to navigate them effectively. By encouraging self-reflection during problem-solving moments, learners can identify their thinking processes, assess their strategies, and make adjustments as needed. This adaptable mindset allows them to tackle obstacles with resilience and resourcefulness.


4. Connecting with Emotions

Metacognition involves recognising and understanding emotions, and the outdoors provide a rich tapestry of emotional experiences. From the excitement of reaching a mountaintop to the serenity of a babbling brook, learners can explore the connection between their emotions and the environment. This awareness enhances their overall well-being and helps them form a deeper bond with nature.


5. Transfer of Learning to New Contexts

One of the remarkable aspects of metacognition is its ability to transfer knowledge and skills across different contexts. By reflecting on their outdoor experiences and metacognitive processes, learners can draw connections to other areas of their lives. Whether it's applying problem-solving strategies to academic challenges or using goal-setting techniques in personal projects, the skills honed outdoors become tools for success in various domains.


Children in science class.
Metacognition helps learners to transfer knowledge and skills across different contexts.

So there we have it! Metacognition might sound like a complex concept at first. However, it is simply the ability to think about your own thinking and there is an incredible synergy between metacognition and outdoor learning. By fostering self-awareness, reflection, adaptability, and emotional connections, metacognition unleashes the full potential of outdoor education. So, let's embrace the great outdoors, armed with the power of metacognition, and embark on an awesome journey of growth, discovery, and adventure!


 

How about subscribing or becoming a member of Outdoortopia and joining the movement?

Subscribe to Outdoortopia for more updates and blog posts on outdoor education for a sustainable future.

Join our Online Community to connect with parents, teachers and youth leaders passionate about education for a brighter future.

bottom of page