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Towards a Definition of Metaskills

Stephen, Katherine; Muir, Laura; Hall, Hazel


Laura Muir

Hazel Hall


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.


Stephen, K., Muir, L., & Hall, H. (2020). Towards a Definition of Metaskills. Information Research, 25(4 (supplement)),

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Conference Name ISIC 2020: The Information Behaviour Conference
Conference Location Pretoria, South Africa
Publication Date 2020-12
Deposit Date Jun 3, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jan 22, 2021
Print ISSN 1368-1613
Publisher University of Borås, Information Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 4 (supplement)
Keywords Metaskills
Public URL


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