Metacognition: Students Employing a Metacognitive Perspective Enjoy Certain Advantages

Posted: November 30th, 2013

Metacognition: Students Employing a Metacognitive Perspective Enjoy Certain Advantages







Metacognition: Students Employing a Metacognitive Perspective Enjoy Certain Advantages


Metacognition is defined as the process of “thinking about thinking.” Metacognition is the process of monitoring and controlling of one’s own knowledge, actions and emotions through assessing them or thinking about them. For instance, when one reads a complex text and finds it hard to comprehend, one can evaluate their learning strategy. Evaluating or thinking about the best strategy for reading the texts amounts to metacognition. Additionally, metacognition involves monitoring one’s own cognitive processes. This is how one learns and comprehends things. When one is aware of the problems they have within their cognition, they are able to focus on what works for them. Another definition of metacognition specific for education is the ability of students being aware of their understanding level in different topics. Thus, when students use metacognition, they are well positioned to evaluate what they already know about a topic, and what they need to learn. This gives them an added advantage when it comes to learning, since they are aware of what problems they have with their learning. The ability to know and understand one’s own cognitive processes allows students to find out the best learning strategies as well as their strengths in comprehending while learning, allowing them to employ other strategies that better improves their performance. Practically, the ability to be self aware of one’s cognitive abilities and processes enables them to regulate their cognition, maximize their potential in learning, thinking, and evaluating themselves as well as their performance. Students using metacognition have a great advantage since the ability to be self aware of one’s own level of knowledge and cognition processes helps them in making better decisions concerning their studies such as learning strategies to use and what to study.

Metacognition and Learning Process and Strategy

Metacognition is about the awareness of one’s own level of knowledge and learning processes or cognitive processes. Cognitive process in learning refers to the process through which a person learns new things, such as through reading, observations, and listening. Using metacognition in evaluating the cognitive processes one can realize what would be their best cognitive strategy for learning. For instance, some people will know that learning in a library through engaging in in-depth reading, works better for them in certain topics, while others may know that comprehending a scientific text will require them to read wider than when comprehending history texts. Thus, understanding of one’s own cognitive process is a step towards improving performance. Metacognition allows students to questions themselves about the ideal active learning technique for them. Seeking to find out the ideal active learning technique allows students to find out what their learning capabilities are. With the ideal learning technique in mind, one can use it on the topics they need to comprehend. Lack of knowledge on one’s own cognitive process or learning process will lead students to using the wrong learning methods, probably those that might not be ideal for them. For instance, some students will only be aware of reading to pass quizzes instead of reading to apply knowledge. This could work for topics that do not need application. However, for other topics such as literature where one is supposed to apply the knowledge in analyzing other materials, such students will be in trouble analyzing other works. Therefore, they end up fining it hard to understand some topics. Some topics are hard to comprehend than others, requiring extra keenness and focus. However, without knowing about one’s own ideal learning strategy, one may use the wrong technique, and end up never comprehending the topic. Some people will learn better through seeking answers to questions, while other will learn better through reading deeper and taking notes for revision. Therefore, learning about the learning strategies available would be the first requirement for students in order to have several to choose from depending on the topics and the ideal strategy.



Metacognition and Level of Knowledge

Lang (2012) explains that metacognition “is a person’s awareness of his or her own level of knowledge and thought processes. In education, it has to do with students’ awareness of their actual level of understanding of a topic.” About understanding of one’s own thought has already been addressed in the previous paragraph. In this paragraph, the focus is about awareness of one’s level of knowledge. Understanding of one’s own level of knowledge is about awareness of what one already knows, and what one does not. Many students will feel that they understand a certain topic well after reading it. The truth could be they are not aware of what they know and do not know. For instance, some students might have confidence about a certain topic, only to receive poor grades after an exam. They feel the answers they gave are satisfactory, but the truth is that they do not know the level of their knowledge. In short, they have poor metacognition, and can hardly realize this. “Weaker students typically have poor metacognition; they are grossly overconfident in their level of understanding. They think they have a good understanding when they really have a shallow…” (Lang 2012). He further says that such lack of metacognition contributes to poor decisions by such students, where thinking they already know a lot stops them from reading widely. They stop studying topic, even before they have enough in-depth knowledge and comprehension that is necessary for handling examination questions. On the other hand, students with better metacognition will understand the level of their knowledge, be aware of what they know as well as what they do not know. This will help them in reading deeper in order to establish what they have not covered. Students with good metacognition have a chance of improving their performance since they are aware of what they need to do to improve unlike those who lack metacognition, and never know what to do to improve.


Social Metacognition

            Metacognition is a matter of assessing one’s own knowledge and learning processes as explained. Some people will have good metacognition while others will lack good metacognition. The above two parts focus on individual metacognition for improving performance, while social performance also helps students in improving their performance. Social metacognition is about assessing the level of knowledge and learning processes of other people. Chiu and Kuo (2010) cite “social metacognition is an extension of metacognition into group interactions” (321). When students come together for group discussions, they can help each other through assessing each other’s metacognition. For instance, when two students, A and B engage in a discussion, A could realize that B is using a method that is quite complex to comprehend. When A realizes the learning strategy used by B is wrong, he is engaging in social metacognition, since he assesses the strategy used by B. A could suggest another strategy to B, which could work better. Using groups enables the two students to help each other out, and this could go a long way in helping improve their individual metacognition. Through social metacognition, individuals can realize some of their strategies are not acceptable by learning other strategies from other students. Thus, monitoring and controlling each other’s knowledge and learning processes to solve group problems, helps students in assessing their own processes while learning from others. “Social metacognition distributes metacognitive demands among group members, increases the visibility of one another’s metacognition, and improves individual cognition, resulting in a reciprocal scaffolding and greater motivation,” (Chiu and Kuo, 2010. p.322). This goes ahead to help students in improving their performance the ability of social metacognition in highlighting individual limitations, expanding of their understanding and helping in sharing of knowledge.

Counter Argument

            Despite the ability of metacognition in improving performance to students who use it, it could also act in the opposite direction. Students are likely to devote a lot of time to metacognitive processes and end up evaluating themselves incorrectly. Additionally, Chiu and Kuo (2010) cite that students could end up scaffolding poorly. However, through social metacognition, some of these difficulties could be avoided since one will be assessed by others, making evaluation more accurate. On the other hand, social metacognition is limited especially where one person might dominate others, and communication difficulties. Despite the benefits of metacognition, assessing and evaluating oneself is not easy and poses problems of inaccuracy.

Annotated Bibliography

Chiu, M.M., & Kuo, S.W. (2010). From Metacognition to Social Metacognition: Similarities, Differences, and Learning. Journal of Education, 3 (4): 321- 338

In this article, Chiu and Kou explore the ideas behind metacognition and social metacognition. They cite that individual metacognition is controlling and monitoring of one’s own knowledge and, emotions, and actions, while social refers to the same, but in this case done to others in a groups where one assesses and controls other people’s knowledge. They explore the differences and similarities of the two, as well as their benefits and difficulties. The article provides a reliable source of secondary research.

Lang J. M. (2012). Metacognition and Student Learning. The Chronicle of Higher Education

In this article, the author explores and explains metacognition through examples in real life. For instance, he starts by mentioning about how people will enjoy watching some poor singers who went for auditions in the Idols reality show, believing they are good while they are pathetic. He goes ahead to explain metacognition in relation to education. He cites that metacognition in education is about knowing one’s own level of knowledge about a particular topic. He goes ahead to cite other professionals in the area about metacognition and ways of learning metacognition. The article is ideal for research on identifying metacognition in people and ways it can be used in helping students improve performance.




Chiu, M.M., & Kuo, S.W. (2010). From Metacognition to Social Metacognition: Similarities, Differences, and Learning. Journal of Education, 3 (4): 321- 338

Lang J. M. (2012). Metacognition and Student Learning. The Chronicle of Higher Education


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