The Definition of Metacognitive Skills in Education


Controlling your thinking processes and becoming more aware of your learning is called metacognition. Metacognitive skills make you aware of your own knowledge, the ability to understand, control and manipulate your own cognitive process. In short, you learn to learn. It is important to know the process of learning and understanding your own approach to it.


  • The term metacognition was introduced by John Flavell of Stanford University in 1976 to refer to the individual's own awareness and consideration of cognitive processes and strategies. Humans have the capacity to be self-reflexive that does not just border on thinking to know, but thinking about your own thinking. Flavell concluded that students acquire the ability to store and retrieve information that might be useful in future. You can keep current any information related to problem-solving and retrieve it when needed. Research on metacognition usually falls three categories: metamemory, metacomprehension and self-regulation.


  • Knowing about memory is called metamemory. It is knowledge about how your memory works, its content and how you control it. A number of factors play a role in how you learn and memorize. You must have factual knowledge about how your memory works by monitoring your memory and understanding its current condition. How well do you use your memory in stressful or demanding situations? These factors help develop different memory strategies. You must know which strategy to use for a particular memory task. Knowledge of how to deploy a given memory strategy effectively is also crucial.


  • If you read a difficult passage and fail to comprehend the information it contains, you experience metacomprehension. Metacomprehension is being able to monitor your capacity to absorb information being communicated. When failure to understand is recognized, you can employ repair strategies. You can read a passage critically when you are adept at metacomprehension.

Self Regulation

  • Self-regulation is having the ability to adjust your own learning processes in response to your current status of learning. Self-regulation is being able to monitor your own learning and maintaining the right attitude to invoke and use strategies available. A student must understand available strategies and their essence in an effort to develop metacognitive skills.

Students with Metacognitive Needs

  • According to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, metacognitive skills play a significant role in organizing the tasks we perform. Such skills help a student plan, set goals, initiate, monitor and manage progress on tasks and correct mistakes. On the flip side, students without such skills cannot plan effectively, let alone oversee their own work from the beginning to the conclusion.

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