Congratulations to Katherine Stephen for an excellent Masters dissertation on metaskills

Katherine Stephen

Katherine Stephen

Congratulations to our PhD student Katherine Stephen, who last week learnt that she was awarded 80% for the Masters dissertation component of her 1+3 PhD. Katherine’s studentship is a collaborative award funded by the ESRC and Skills Development Scotland, and comprises a Masters year at the University of Edinburgh (2018/19) prior to three years of doctoral study at Edinburgh Napier University (2019/22).

Katherine’s Masters dissertation took the form of an extended PhD proposal, and thus has the same title as her doctoral study: Metaskills maturity for future workplaces. The work that she completed for the dissertation last year included a small pilot study entitled Metacognitive experiences of artificial intelligence in the workplace.

In her dissertation Katherine explains that career landscapes are changing, and the future of individual workers is predicted to be predicated on adaptability and protean values. If this is the case, she argues, more important than technical skill in one area is the ability to form and implement cognitive strategies for managing situations as they arise. The processes required to create these strategic abilities are situated within ‘metacognition’ – thinking about thinking. Furthermore, a mature level of metacognition can assist in acquiring ‘metaskills’ – a variety of general competencies that complement the generation and application of technical abilities across domains. Although seen by some as by-products of specialist education, research has shown that metacognition and metaskills are able to be consciously developed alongside discipline-specific knowledge, and that experiential learning is a good way to encourage this.

In consolidating these concepts, and conducting research across apprenticeship cohorts in order to determine appropriate universal measurement and growth interventions, for her PhD Katherine will investigate ways in which workers can extend their metaskill development while continuing to learn new technical skills. This should contribute to the metaskills maturity of workplaces as cohesive units, and better prepare individual workers for job disruptions by allowing them the self-confidence to continue their careers with minimal cognitive disfluency.

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