What is it about?

In our research, we delved into the fascinating world of creative problem-solving, particularly focusing on how students tackle complex challenges like writing academic essays. Imagine facing a difficult task that requires you to not only understand the topic but also be innovative in presenting your ideas or planning your approach. This skill, known as creative problem-solving, is crucial in our daily lives to overcome unique challenges. In line with our previous studies, we discovered that there's another layer to this process called metacognition, which involves thinking about how you think; and the planning, monitoring, and regulating how you proceed. Think of it as having an awareness of your own problem-solving skills. For instance, some students were skilled and didn't even realize it, effectively using their thinking skills to write outstanding essays. On the other hand, some students were less skilled but believed they were doing great, highlighting the importance of accurately understanding one's abilities. Finally, there were students who performed poorly, but at the same time were aware of that fact. So we asked the questions, how these three groups of students differ? What do they need? And we found out that students who are overconfident really need to work on their metacognition. While students who were aware of their low performance needed to improve their motivation to perform. While they might have been aware of their limitations, they still faced motivational hurdles. Their interest and engagement in the task were on the lower side. It's like they knew they weren't the speediest runners, but they weren't exactly pumped up to join the race. By identifying these different groups of students, teachers can tailor instruction to help them excel even more. Targeted interventions can be designed for students to improve their self-awareness or academic motivation to enhance their problem-solving performance. In essence, our research highlights how thinking about thinking, along with motivation, plays a crucial role in successfully navigating challenges. Whether it's writing an essay or facing other non-routine real-world problems, knowing how you think can make a significant difference in fostering creativity and finding effective solutions.

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Why is it important?

While many studies explore creativity in controlled experiments, our work stands out by examining the real-world application of creative skills through the lens of student essay writing. This adds a layer of practicality and relevance, addressing a common criticism that creativity research often lacks ecological validity. By identifying distinct student clusters based on their metacognitive skills and creative performance in a real academic setting, we provide practical insights for educators. This research could pave the way for targeted interventions, allowing teachers to tailor their instruction to meet the diverse needs of students. In an era where personalized and effective learning strategies are increasingly valued, our findings offer valuable guidance for educators striving to enhance students' creative problem-solving skills. In essence, our work contributes not only to the academic discourse on creativity but also holds significant implications for the educational landscape. This dual relevance, coupled with the practical insights gleaned from our study, positions our research as a valuable resource for educators, researchers, and anyone interested in unlocking the secrets of creative thinking in real-world contexts.


We dived into the world of creative problem-solving, particularly focusing on how students approach the daunting task of writing essays. I mean, we've all been there, staring at a blank page, trying to weave our thoughts into something meaningful and unique. The fact that this study revolves around such a relatable and real-world scenario adds a special touch to it. Although we identified three different groups of our students, high-achievers who were underconfident and low-achievers who were overconfident, for me, personally, the most interesting are the students who were unskilled in writing but aware of it – they bring an important twist to the story. These are individuals who, despite recognizing their own shortcomings in creative problem-solving, had the self-awareness to admit it. It's like realizing you're not the fastest runner in the race but being okay with it. What this tells me is that there's potential here. Acknowledging one's weaknesses is the first step to improvement. If we can figure out how to boost their motivation, these students might surprise themselves with what they can achieve creatively. It adds a layer of hope and potential growth to the narrative.

Dr. Marek Urban
Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences

As a metacognition researcher, this article extends my exploration of its pivotal role in education. Metacognitive skills emerge as crucial for students grappling with intricate real-world challenges. I believe it is essential that all students, not just the naturally gifted, develop these critical self-regulatory skills. This research reinforces the need for metacognitive training so everyone can capably navigate ambiguity when creating original solutions. Given the dynamic nature of our world, possessing these adaptive skills is increasingly imperative, and I am dedicated to contributing to equipping students with this essential toolkit.

Dr. Kamila Urban
Institute for Research in Social Communication, Slovak Academy of Sciences

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Does Metacognition Matter in Creative Problem‐Solving? A Mixed‐Methods Analysis of Writing, The Journal of Creative Behavior, January 2024, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/jocb.630.
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