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Critical Maths for Innovative Societies

The Role of Metacognitive Pedagogies

By Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD

How can mathematics education foster development of the skills required by innovative societies? Mathematics education is heavily emphasized worldwide, but it is still considered to be a stumbling block for many students. While there is near consensus that mathematics problems appropriate for the twenty-first century should be complex, unfamiliar, and nonroutine (CUN), most of the textbooks still include mainly routine problems based on the application of ready-made algorithms.

The time has come to introduce innovative instructional methods to enhance mathematics education and students’ ability to solve CUN tasks. Metacognitive pedagogies, which explicitly train students to “think about their thinking,” can play a key role. These pedagogies can be used to improve not just academic achievement (for example, content knowledge and the ability to handle unfamiliar problems) but also affective outcomes such as anxiety and motivation. The strong relationship between metacognition and schooling outcomes has implications for both the education community and policymakers.

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