Metacognition refers to one's awareness of and ability to regulate one's own thinking. Some everyday examples of metacognition include:
So, metacognition is like an internal guide that notices when your attention wanes, when your comprehension and memory fail or succeed, when your thinking is faulty, when you haven't learned something, and so forth. And, the internal guide takes action, whether that involves refocusing attention, re-reading, mulling over an idea, asking questions, or other mental moves to deal more effectively with the situation. Metacognition makes you smarter--or at least better able to take advantage of your abilities. Fortunately, students can improve their metacognitive skills and teachers can help them do so, like the elementary school teacher who always admonished the class to, "check your work!"
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Cognitive psychologist, Steve Chew, uses frequent formative assessment tasks in class to help students see discrepancies between what they thought they understood and what they actually understand. See Metacognition and Learning. Chew also has made a series of short videos to help students become more strategic in the ways they approach learning. See How to Get the Most Out of Studying.
Also see, Learning How to Learn: Metacognition in Liberal Education where college instructors are using metacognitive assignments to promote the development of more sophisticated "self regulated" learning. One interesting technique is something called an exam wrapper, a post-test assignment in which students analyze their preparation
and performance on an exam and then propose ways to improve their future
learning. Introduced by Marsha Lovett and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon
University, exam wrappers
engage students in being more self aware about the relationship between
their preparation and performance and acting more strategically as they
try to improve their learning in a course.