Research Output

Towards a Definition of Metaskills

  Introduction: The term ‘metaskill’ has been used to mean a range of different types of information-based skill. This poster describes this variation in use across disciplines and industries, and two distinct but related definitions are found.
Method: 210 scholarly papers were identified across the fields of psychology, work-based learning, education and information using key word searches. These papers are analysed for inclusion of definitions and examples of ‘metaskills’.
Analysis: Comparisons are made to find similarities and disagreements within both definitions and examples. Excel is used to create word lists, and word clouds used to assess weight and frequency.
Findings: Although some agreement can be found, there is no wide consensus. Two separate but related definitions emerge: that of a shorthand for ‘metacognitive skill’, and a broader ‘higher order’ technical skill type.
Conclusions: Used as a buzzword in work-based learning literature, the idea of ‘metaskills’ seems to be an increasingly important part of lifelong learning. The two definitions that have emerged have some crossover, which may lead to confusion when designing skill development interventions. While formal education environments have traditionally been the source of participants for skill-based research, further work on the development of well-defined metaskills within the workplace is encouraged.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    28 September 2020

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Stephen, K., Muir, L., & Hall, H. (2020, September). Towards a Definition of Metaskills. Poster presented at ISIC 2020: The Information Behaviour Conference, Pretoria, South Africa




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