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If cognition is defined as the way we think and process information, then metacognition can be defined as the way we think about our own thoughts. In other words, metacognition is thinking about thinking.

American psychologist John Flavell believes that metacognition consists of metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive experiences. Metacognitive knowledge can be knowledge about the way you or others think, knowledge that different tasks or problems require different types of cognitive demands, or knowledge about strategies that can enhance learning and performance. Metacognitive experiences, such as reflecting on thoughts or analyzing thoughts, examine how we use strategies to help us regulate and oversee our own learning.

In sum, metacognition consists of planning, evaluating, and monitoring problem-solving activities and the outcome of these activities. Research suggests that greater metacognitive abilities are associated with more successful problem solving. This finding has instructional applications, meaning that it may be possible to teach students to be more aware of their own learning processes and performance, how to regulate these processes, and to learn more effectively.



Flavell, John. "Metacognition and Cognitive Monitoring: A New Area of Cognitive-Developmental Inquiry." American Psychologist 34 (1979):906-911.

Sally A. Srokowski

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 5