Teaching for Effective Learning


Metacognition is the process of thinking about one’s own thinking and learning.

Metacognition: intentitional thinking about how you think and learn

  • I am figuring out ...
  • What are the steps that I need to follow here?
  • I am wondering ...
  • What do I already know about this topic?
  • Where did I get stuck when trying to solve this problem?
  • It reminds me of ...
  • What is the assignment asking me to do?

Cognition: your thinking activities and processes

It involves knowing when you know, knowing when you don’t know, and knowing what to do when you don’t know. In other words, it involves self-monitoring and correcting your own learning processes. For example, you engage in metacognition if you notice that you are having more trouble learning concept A than concept B, or if you realize that your approach to solving a problem is not working, and you decide to try a different approach.

Metacognition also involves knowing yourself as a learner; that is, knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a learner. For example, if you can explain what your strengths are in academic writing, or exam taking, or other types of academic tasks, then you are metacognitively aware. Metacognitive processes can be applied to learning and thinking in all disciplines and contexts. It is an essential skill for life-long learning, and therefore, metacognitive skills need to be taught and discussed with students.