The Thought Processes of Experts

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

November 02, 2021

Every fall, I am reminded of how much I need to make my thinking visible for new learners who enter my classrooms. Over this past month I have been “thinking a lot about my own thinking” as well as the thought processes others go through in order to do their jobs. 

Metacognition is defined as “awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes” (Oxford Languages, 2021). In other words, and more commonly stated, metacognition is thinking about your thinking. Metacognition is a term that is used a fair amount in academia, but I have seen little, if any, discussion of it in other sectors. However, when it comes to succession planning, and job training, I think metacognition is necessary for effective transfer of learning.

In higher education, there is a push for instructors to make their thinking visible so that students learn how to think like experts. There is actually a pedagogical strategy (and accompanying book) called Decoding the Disciplines, which is defined as “a process for increasing student learning by narrowing the gap between expert and novice thinking. Beginning with the identification of bottlenecks to learning in particular disciplines, it seeks to make explicit the tacit knowledge of experts and to help students master the mental actions they need for success in particular courses” (“Decoding the Disiplines,” n.d., para. 1). What Decoding the Disciplines does so well is to help instructors identify where learners struggle— and then it helps instructors to very explicitly explain their thought processes in the areas where learners struggle. 

This idea of having an expert reflect on their own thinking (metacognition) and then explain their thought processes is something that is beneficial in all job sectors and professions. In the information profession, it is particularly beneficial as we share knowledge about how an organization works, how we do our jobs, how we locate information, and how we package the information to share it with others. 

Personally, I would love to see a more concerted effort from experts in the information profession to share their thought processes with those new to the field. This is how we keep building new knowledge. We work to ensure we do not lose what is already known. 

I encourage you to take time to reflect on the thought processes you use in your work. Then, ask yourself if you think others use similar thought processes. Next, consider how you may want to share your thought processes with others who report to you or with organizational stakeholders. Finally, consider who you may want to learn from. Is there someone who has been working in the information profession for a long time and can share their own thought processes? 

I hope you find engaging in metacognition as useful as I do. 


Decoding the Disciplines. (n.d.).

Oxford Languages. (2021). Metacognition. Google Search. 

Chick, N. (2013). Metacognition. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent speaker on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Her professional interests include information literacy, educational technology, library and information science education, teacher identity, and academic development. Please read Lauren’s other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets. 

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