Cognitive evaluation

A study among first-year Oxford students showed that, in the absence of explicit guidance, they seriously lack cognitive evaluation. Instead of using independent criteria, these students were guided much more by concepts that had determined their worldview since childhood. The outcome of the evaluation depended mainly on whether or not the student agreed with the writer's point of view. With this approach, students used their own beliefs rather than independent criteria to determine whether something is true or not. Arguments are then true as long as the conclusion coincides with the student's view and false if they contradict it. An individual's worldview largely arises from naive concepts that a person carries with him since childhood. Concepts learned in childhood are difficult to change in education. What is once reinforced in the neural circuits tends to remain learned. The system of somatic labeling also plays an important role in this. A concept that has been given to someone since childhood feels familiar. This thinking only slowly declines as certain neural circuits are no longer used and disappear in adolescence. For many subjects where students have learned incorrect concepts, the usual feedback from teachers falls short. Redlining the error or posting comments in the margins is not enough to activate new neuronal circuits in students' brains. The point is to make the right ideas explicit in the curriculum, to discuss them systematically and to repeat them. In secondary education, students are expected to influence their own activities. They must be able to reflect on their own performance and they must be able to choose their own goals and talk about them with their teacher or with other students. This requires metacognitive skills. Unfortunately, it is a misconception that adolescents are able to use metacognitive skills efficiently for their learning. They are not yet ready for this in their mental development. The question is therefore whether it is useful to explicitly include these metacognitive skills in the curriculum in secondary education. Students confronted with an approach they are not mentally prepared for use distractions, wild guesses, and misleading concepts to reduce uncertainty and confusion. Even more so than when dealing with new concepts, this leads to sophistic reasoning. Which means; many words and many gestures to camouflage the lack of content. There is no conscious, efficient learning, but a chaotic kind of trial and error.

Explicit feedback from the teacher is crucial for education. The teacher must therefore not only position himself as a service provider or supervisor of the learning process, but he must make core concepts explicit. He must provide structure by guiding the learning process and its evaluation. In other words, not only create the conditions, but also control and maintain control over the management of explicit learning.