What is Metacognition?

It involves being aware of and understanding one's thoughts, knowledge, and cognitive strategies. In other words, metacognition is the act of thinking about how we think and learn. When equipped with the right teaching and learning strategies, students can be helped to develop metacognitive skills that allow them to plan, organise, and evaluate their own learning, leading to greater autonomy and academic success. This is called self-regulated learning.

Enhancing Learning with Metacognition

Learners are able to regulate their own approach to learning, are able to evaluate different learning strategies and choose the most effective ones for a particular task. By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, students can select appropriate approaches to problem-solving, information processing, and knowledge retention. This enhances a learner’s ability to think critically, to evaluate evidence, and generate solutions to complex problems and promotes deeper understanding and higher-order thinking skills.

Well-developed metacognitive skills also help learners to monitor and self-assess their own understanding, identify gaps in their knowledge, recognise when they need help, and seek additional resources or support.

EEF Metacognition & Self-Regulation Guidance Report, 2018

Significantly, metacognition helps with the transfer of learning to new situations and contexts. Students who are aware of their thinking processes can identify similarities and differences between what they have learned and new situations, allowing them to apply their knowledge and skills effectively.  

Develop Metacognition in your teaching:

Tools & Strategies
Professional Development
Whole-school Implementation

Self-regulated learners are also aware of their own emotional and attitudinal responses towards learning; they can recognise and regulate their emotional responses towards the challenges they face and can regulate their own motivation, building resilience and a positive mindset, especially when experiencing setbacks.

Metacognitive learners are empowered in taking an active role in their learning, developing deeper understanding of the content, regardless of the context or domain. They are better prepared as life-long learners, enhanced with a capacity for self-regulation and critical thinking- so important in a rapidly changing world and a future that we cannot predict

We need to begin to see metacognition less as an activity residing solely in the interior regions of the mind and see it more as a catalyst for action..

For further support on developing metacognition & self-regulation in learning:

Find out about Thinking School Network Membership
Join the Metacognition Movement and Become a Thinking School
Check out articles on metacognition in our Thinking Reference Library
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