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The Complete Guide to Enhancing Learning with Metacognition

Why is Metacognition Important for Learning and How Does it Actually work?

What is metacognition:

Metacognition is an awareness of one’s own learning. It entails understanding the goals of the learning process, figuring out the best strategies for learning, and assessing whether the learning goals are being met. A metacognitive student sees him or herself as an agent in the learning process and realizes that learning is an active, strategic activity.

Metacognition can include any of the following elements:

  • Understanding what one already knows about a topic

  • Figuring out what one wants to know about a topic

  • Realizing what one has learned in the course of a lesson

  • Monitoring one’s understanding during the course of an activity

  • Choosing which learning strategies to employ and when

  • Evaluating whether a particular learning strategy was successful in a given circumstance

What Is Cognitive Psychology?

Cognitive psychology involves the study of internal mental processes—all of the things that go on inside your brain, including perception, thinking, memory, attention, language, problem-solving, and learning.

Cognitive psychology is an area that focuses on the science of how people think. This branch of psychology explores a wide variety of mental processes including how people think, use language, attend to information, and perceive their environments.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is the study of childhood neurological and psychological development. Specifically, cognitive development is assessed based on the level of conception, perception, information processing, and language as an indicator of brain development.

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development involves the following distinct components:

  1. Schemas: Blocks of knowledge gained through experiences and interacting with the local environment.

  2. Assimilation: Applying new information into existing schemas.

  3. Adaptation: The ability to build on previous experiences and knowledge.

  4. Equilibration: When most new experiences fit within an existing schema. Cognitive progression occurs when information does not fit within an existing schema and poses a challenge.

  5. Four distinct stages of cognitive development (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages).

A metacognitive development is distinguished in three levels: interpersonal, personal (metacognitive control and executive functions) and impersonal (abstract metacognition). We will focus on these last two:

  • 5-6 years old: Over-estimation. There appears a slight consciousness, which coexists with imprecise ideas about the infallibility of memory. Young children use literal memory, are more impulsive, and have difficulty evaluating their own performance.

  • 8-9 years old: Realism. They combine effort with capacity and efficiency. They have a knowledge of the functioning of mind and memory (recognition, memory, associations, clues). The first learning strategies are acquired, although initially imprecise, which will be improved during and thanks to the schooling stage.

  • + 12 years: Trust. Their assessments are more dependent on external judgments, especially in their peer group. During the adolescence conditional knowledge is applied it refers to how and when to apply different strategies. Increasing cognitive resources (processing speed, capacity, automation) during this stage improves meta cognitive functions.

  • Adults: Integration. Ability to select strategies among multiple options, ability to consider different variables

Metacognition as a Tool to Enhance Learning in Schools

Metacognition helps learners in becoming aware of their individual learning experiences and the activities they involve themselves in their paths toward professional and individual growth. Some examples of metacognitive activities include:

  • planning how to perform a learning task,

  • applying appropriate strategies and skills to solve a problem,

  • self-assessment and self-correction as a result of evaluating one's own progress toward completing a task.

Metacognition is beneficial in student learning because it allows learners to reflect on what they know, who they are, what they wish to know, and how they can reach that point.

Reflection is an important aspect of learning and teaching. Teachers must be reflective in their practice so that they can keep on growing, continue to meet their students’ needs, and evaluate their own growth and skills. It is important to motivate students to practice reflection so that they can build their individual reflective practices and develop metacognitive skills to prepare for their future.


Knowledge about memory is called "metamemory". There are four broad aspects of this kind of knowledge:

  • Factual knowledge about memory tasks and processes (that is, knowledge about both how memory works and about strategic behaviors)

  • Memory monitoring (that is, both awareness of how you typically use your memory as well as awareness of the current state of your memory)

  • Memory self-efficacy (that is, your sense of how well you use memory in demanding situations)

  • Memory-related affect (emotional states that may be related to or generated by memory demanding situations)

The Benefits of Using Meta-Cognitive Strategies to Enhance Your Own Learning

The following are the major positive effects of metacognitive learning:

1. Enhances learning

Metacognitive learning theory enhances lifelong learning. Workers can build upon previous ideas and apply new concepts to already existing knowledge.

2. Boosts confidence

Employees become more confident in approaching tasks as they get a deeper understanding of new topics and learn new skills.

3. Enhances Comprehension

Metacognitive learning improves learners’ comprehension of acquiring new information. They can develop a deeper understanding of new learning materials.

4. Improves problem-solving skills

Metacognitive learning equips employees with the skills they need to learn effectively. They are thereby able to develop problem-solving skills they can apply under challenging tasks.

5. Help learn new things faster

Through the experience of learning, the employee will be able to recycle and use the same learning methods that worked previously. This will help them learn new things a lot faster as they already know what works for them when it comes to obtaining new knowledge.

6. Teaches to form concept formation (think abstract)

Metacognitive learning can also teach your employees to form a range of different concepts such as easily perceiving and interpreting information that could boost creativity and lead to innovations at the workplace.


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