Metacognition : What you need to know?

Metacognition is “cognition about cognition“, or “knowing about knowing”. It comes from the root word “meta“, meaning beyond. It can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving. Its an higher order thinking which involves active control over the cognitive processes engaged in learning. Planning, monitoring comprehension, evaluating as how to approach a given learning task falls under metacognition. Here we share All about Metacognition you need to know!


Flavell (1976), who first used the term, offers the following example: I am engaging in Metacognition if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; if it strikes me that I should double check C before accepting it as fact.

Cognitive strategies are the basic mental abilities we use to think, study, and learn (e.g., recalling information from memory, analyzing sounds and images, making associations between or comparing/contrasting different pieces of information, and making inferences or interpreting text). They help an individual achieve a particular goal, such as comprehending text or solving a math problem, and they can be individually identified and measured. In contrast, metacognitive strategies are used to ensure that an overarching learning goal is being or has been reached. Examples of metacognitive activities include planning how to approach a learning task, using appropriate skills and strategies to solve a problem, monitoring one’s own comprehension of text, self-assessing and self-correcting in response to the self-assessment, evaluating progress toward the completion of a task, and becoming aware of distracting stimuli.

Its about  “drive one’s own brain”.  It enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning. You are thinking about thinking. During this process you are examining your brain’s processing. Teachers work to guide students to become more strategic thinkers by helping them understand the way they are processing information. Individuals who demonstrate a wide variety of metacognitive skills perform better on exams and complete work more efficiently—they use the right tool for the job, and they modify learning strategies as needed, identifying blocks to learning and changing tools or strategies to ensure goal attainment.

Researchers distinguish between metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation (Flavell, 1979, 1987; Schraw & Dennison, 1994). Flavell (1979) further divides metacognitive knowledge into three categories: Person Task and Strategy.

Livingston (1997) provides an example of all three variables: “I know that I (person variable) have difficulty with word problems (task variable), so I will answer the computational problems first and save the word problems for last (strategy variable).”

Research shows that metacognitive skills can be taught to students to improve their learning:

Individuals with well-developed metacognitive skills can think through a problem or approach a learning task, select appropriate strategies, and make decisions about a course of action to resolve the problem or successfully perform the task. They often think about their own thinking processes, taking time to think about and learn from mistakes or inaccuracies (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1995).

The essence of Metacognition process is Plan Monitor & Evaluate! Metacognition Strategies that Teachers need to teach-

1. Encourage students to engage in “metacognitive conversations” with themselves so that they can “talk” with themselves about their learning, the challenges they encounter, and the ways in which they can self-correct and continue learning. 

2. Teach learners how to ask questions during reading, teach them to monitor their reading by constantly asking themselves if they understand what the text is about. “Why is this a key phrase to highlight?” and “Why am I not highlighting this?”

3. Teach brainstorming ideas using a word web, or using a graphic organizer to put ideas into paragraphs, with the main idea at the top and the supporting details below it.

4. Teach learners the importance of using organizers such as KWL charts, Venn diagrams, concept maps , and anticipation/reaction charts to sort information and help them learn and understand content.

5. Teach learners to use mnemonics to recall steps in a process.


When students start applying these strategies automatically whenever they are in learning process, then goal of teaching metcognition strategies is achieved.

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