Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Great Exercise for Teaching Metacognitive Reflective Thinking

There are two types of reflective thinking.  With the first type, the learner reflects on the results of a process the thinker has undertaken.  For example, after solving a legal problem, the problem solver should evaluate whether the result was the best one for the client.  Similarly, after having written a brief, the writer should evaluate whether the brief is substantively correct and whether it is convincing.  The second type of reflective thinking is metacognitive--thinking about thinking.  With this type of reflection the thinker evaluates the process used to reach a result.  For example, in solving a problem, did I employ an effective and efficient process to solve that problem?  Likewise, in doing legal research, the researcher should consider not only whether the result was correct, but whether the process employed in reaching that result was effective and efficient.

Ann Davis Shields recently proposed a great exercise to help students develop their metacognitive reflection skills on the LRWPROF-L listserve (a listserve for legal writing professors).   She suggests an exercise in which the students write a letter of recommendation for themselves.   Such an exercise would be a good method to help the students think about their thinking process.

(Scott Fruehwald

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