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Guest post by Shawn Thomas

With the vast options available, many business leaders wonder how they can best choose corporate training programs that will deliver the results their company needs and wants.

For those who find themselves asking this question, consider an important but frequently overlooked factor that can make all the difference in whether the learning sticks or is soon forgotten. As you evaluate prospective trainers’ content and experience, you should also consider whether they help learners employ metacognitive strategies to enhance learning and retention.

Metacognition is broadly defined as “thinking about thinking.” It is about understanding how we think and why we think that way. The following four steps are a good beginning to use metacognition in learning:

1. Assessing one’s current level of knowledge or understanding.

2. Evaluating the need to develop new knowledge.

3. Understanding how to develop the needed knowledge.

4. Making and implementing a plan to do so.

To ensure that learners get the results they are looking for, smart facilitators will utilize the power of metacognitive strategies. This helps the learners understand and manage the way they absorb, incorporate and utilize new knowledge. Prompting participants to answer questions like these before, during and after the training, formally or informally, can assist with the learning:

  • What do I expect to learn from this program and how will it benefit me and my work?
  • What do I currently know that is relevant and will help me further my understanding?
  • Do I agree or disagree with what I am learning? Why?
  • How is this similar to or different from what I’ve thought or done in the past?
  • Did I get what I expected from the program?
  • Is there anything I don’t fully understand and should explore further?

Why Metacognition Enhances Training

The goal of customized corporate training programs is to change participants’ behavior in a way that supports business goals in the short and long term. The problem, though, is that long term behavior change is hard.

Let’s take productivity training as an example. You have probably assembled some collection of strategies for managing your work. Some of these might work well for you, while others frequently fall short and limit your performance. For example, you might have thousands of email messages in your inbox and often find yourself taking too much time to scroll through them in an attempt to find information you need. But since you’re so set in your habits, it’s difficult to make meaningful changes in areas like this  — even when you know you need to, and even when someone is showing you a better way to do things.

So how do you succeed at changing those deeply rooted thoughts and actions? This is where corporate training programs that incorporate metacognitive strategies come in. Metacognitive strategies work because they give us a way to ensure that we are in control of the cognitive processes that allow us to learn new things and change our habits. Studies show that those who employ metacognitive strategies learn more effectively, are better problem solvers and are better at making decisions.successful corporate training programs

Corporate training programs are a big investment. Employing metacognitive strategies is just one of many ways that Maura focuses on long term behavior change —and as a result, high ROI—in her Empowered Productivity training. For other ways to make any kind of training successful, email her at maura(at)regainyourtime(dot)com for a complementary e-book on training success.


Shawn Thomas is a speaker, social science researcher and data analyst, and a fine art photographer who uses photography as an external representation of self-reflection and personal growth, and as a tool to help others discover their own path to self-mastery.


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