What are metaskills?
Research question and participants
Potential contributions to knowledge
3. What are metaskills?
“Timeless, higher order skills” (SDS, 2018)
“Faculties linked to communications, critical
thinking, interpersonal communications, and
leadership” (Finch et al, 2013)
“Higher-order skills that enable effective
use of pre-existing skills” (Grace et al,
“Collateral competencies that aid in the
computation and recomputation of goal
trajectories across changing environments
and over time” (Karoly, 1993)
4. Metaskills – Definitions
1. Abbreviation for metacognitive skill - the ability to use introspection
to further develop your learning, thinking and understanding
2. Skills above/beyond skills - higher-order skills that are applicable
across domains and disciplines, leading you to improve or
accumulate ‘hard skills’ through having built up a metaskill within
one or more other ‘hard skills’.
5. Why do we need metaskills?
Jobs are changing – not the roles themselves, but the tasks within those roles (Hirschi, 2018)
Technical requirements within roles are changing rapidly (Gleason, 2018)
Learning will therefore need to happen in the workplace
• ‘Just-In-Time’ training
• Self-directed learning
Confidence in individual learning processes is paramount
• Understanding and monitoring own knowledge levels
6. Psychological instruments:
• Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich et al, 1991)
• Self-Directed Learning Orientation scale (Gijbels et al, 2012)
• Self-Regulated Learning in the Workplace Questionnaire (Fontana et al, 2015)
• Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (Schraw and Dennison, 1994)
• Observations in online learning environments (Winne and Hadwin, 2013) – motivation, self-
• Reflective exercises (Lyubomirsky and Della Porta, 2010) - resilience
• Peer feedback (Kyndt et al, 2009) – experiential learning
7. 1. Metaskills
(e.g. education, justice)
How do these capabilities (1)
filter through these processes (2)
in these situations (3)?
9. Underpinning Philosophies
Social constructivism Feminist Standpoint
• Truth is built by and between individuals
• Context will alter what reality is
• Guided by actions and perceptions
• Legitimisation of knowledge has been
restricted to those with privilege
• Those without privilege have more insight
into their own realities
10. Methods: Workplace studies
(Suchman, 1995; Heath, Knoblauch and Luff, 2000)
• Making work visible
• Triangulation of methods : surveys, ethnographic observation, interviews
• Typical focus on physical workplaces and processes
• In my research: investigating apprentices’ understanding of intentional experiential learning
11. Methods: Institutional Ethnography
• Institutions as organised by texts
• Document analysis and interviews
• Typical focus on ‘fault lines’ or ‘disjunctures’
• In my research: analysing interpretations of a metaskills assessment matrix
12. Methods: The Imitation Game
Question setter (expert)
(Collins and Evans, 2014)
Forms judgement on who is
• Typical focus on practice language and expertise
• In my research: newcomers to workplace culture
13. Covid-19 Challenges
• How do I observe people interacting in the workplace when the workplace involves no
• Participants need Internet connection and perhaps software
• Everyone is adapting to new workplace cultures, not just newcomers
• If the situations I describe only last for the duration of my study, is the research any use?
14. Contributions to knowledge
• Gathering and analysing existing literature to create validated, workable definitions
• Using sociological perspectives to build on existing psychological ideas
• Qualitative enquiries into what apprentice participants understand about metaskills – both as a
concept, and their own level
• Creating best practice ideas for Scottish workplaces to enable workers to be confident about
15. Thank you for listening!
firstname.lastname@example.org | @metaskillsphd
Beckett, D., Agashae, Z., & Oliver, V. (2002). Just‐in‐time training: techne meets phronesis. Journal of
Collins, H., & Evans, R. (2014). Quantifying the tacit: The imitation game and social
fluency. Sociology, 48(1), 3-19.
Finch, D., Nadeau, J. and O’Reilly, N. (2013). The Future of Marketing Education: A Practitioner’s
Perspective. Journal of Marketing Education, [online] 35(1), pp.54–67. Available at:
Fontana, R. P., Milligan, C., Littlejohn, A., & Margaryan, A. (2015). Measuring self‐regulated learning in
the workplace. International Journal of Training and Development, 19(1), 32-52.
Gijbels D., Raemdonck I., Vervecken D., Van Herck J. (2012) What Keeps Low- and High-Qualified
Workers Competitive: Exploring the Influence of Job Characteristics and Self-Directed Learning Orientation
on Work-Related Learning. In: Van den Bossche P., Gijselaers W., Milter R. (eds) Learning at the Crossroads
of Theory and Practice. Advances in Business Education and Training, vol 4. Springer, Dordrecht
Grace, S., Orrock, P., Vaughan, B., Blaich, R. and Coutts, R. (2016). Understanding clinical reasoning in
osteopathy: a qualitative research approach. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 24(1).
Heath, C., Knoblauch, H., & Luff, P. (2000). Technology and social interaction: the emergence of
‘workplace studies’. The British journal of sociology, 51(2), 299-320.
17. References (cont’d)
Karoly, P. (1993). Mechanisms of self-regulation: A systems view. Annual Review of Psychology, 44(1), 23-
Kizilcec, R.F., Pérez-Sanagustín, M. and Maldonado, J.J. (2016). Recommending Self-Regulated
Learning Strategies Does Not Improve Performance in a MOOC. Proceedings of the Third (2016) ACM
Conference on Learning @ Scale - L@S ’16.
Kyndt, E., Dochy, F., Nijs, H. (2009) Learning conditions for non‐formal and informal workplace learning.
Journal of Workplace Learning. 21 (5).
Lyubomirsky, S. and Della Porta, M.D. (2010). Boosting happiness, buttressing resilience. Handbook of
Adult Resilience, pp.450-464.
Pintrich, P.R. (1991). A Manual for the use of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ).
Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Of Michigan.
Schraw, G., & Dennison, R. S. (1994). Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational
Psychology, 19(4), 460-475.
Skills Development Scotland (2018). Skills 4.0. [online] Skills Development Scotland. Available at:
Smith, D. E. (2005). Institutional ethnography: A sociology for people. Rowman Altamira.
Suchman, L. (1995). Making work visible. Communications of the ACM, 38(9), 56-64.
Winne, P.H. and Hadwin, A.F. (2013). nStudy: Tracing and Supporting Self-Regulated Learning in the
Internet. In: International handbook of metacognition and learning technologies. New York, Ny: Springer.