Metacognition: Understanding How You Learn [Tips, Examples, & Infographic]

The picture provides the definition of metacognition.

Metacognition is the process of thinking about how your brain works. It involves actions like planning, monitoring, and assessing your learning and performance. Usually, teachers develop metacognitive skills in their students in order to enhance their learning abilities and help them adapt to new challenges. However, improving metacognition on your own is also important because it can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a learner.

Metacognitive practices include awareness, critical thinking, and effective learning. There are many ways to improve these skills and boost your academic performance. By using these practices, you will also learn how to recognize the limits of your knowledge, go beyond those limits, and become the best version of yourself. This article will discuss the benefits of metacognitive practices and how you can incorporate them into your daily life. We recommend you start your cognitive growth by reading and analyzing our research essay samples.

📜 What Is Metacognition?

The term metacognition comes from the Greek word meta, meaning “beyond,” and the Latin word cognoscere, meaning “getting to know.” The concept was first introduced by an American developmental psychologist, John Flavell, in 1979. Flavell described metacognition as people’s understanding of their own cognitive processes.

Metacognition is one’s ability to control their own thinking processes by monitoring, organizing, and adapting to various learning situations. Additionally, metacognitive skills allow people to reflect on learning tasks and select the appropriate strategies to deal with them successfully.

Importance of Metacognition in Education

Metacognition is a critical component for students to succeed in new learning environments like online education, international exchange programs, or project-based classes. Metacognitive skills have become a necessary foundation for all disciplines and contexts because these practices help students understand what they know, what they don’t know, and how they can change that.

These are the benefits of metacognition in education:

  • It helps you achieve better academic performance. Research has shown that metacognitive skills can compensate for knowledge limitations as well as improve your grades and understanding of the subject matter.
  • It improves independent learning. Having mastered metacognitive skills, students can monitor their progress inside and outside the classroom.
  • It boosts emotional and social growth. As they gain awareness of individual strengths and weaknesses, students develop healthy self-esteem and act more confidently when socializing with peers, professors, and future employees.

Metacognitive Skills in Learning

Consider how these metacognitive skills can rocket your learning experience to a new level.

Knowing your blind spots.

It’s more than okay to admit you don’t know something. Understanding the most complex subjects starts with simple awareness. Teachers highly value students who aren’t afraid to ask additional questions when they don’t know something.

Evaluating your performance.

You can advance more efficiently by monitoring every step you take towards your goal. For example, when preparing for a test like SAT or ACT, pay attention to the memorizing strategies that work the best for you. Following them to save a lot of time in the future!

Spending enough time on preparation.

We don’t recommend rushing when it comes to learning. Complex tasks usually require spending ample time on research. Whenever you’re preparing for a test or an exam, it’s better to practice daily instead of cramming the night before.

Regular goal-setting.

Setting concrete goals can inspire you to develop necessary problem-solving skills and understand how to overcome challenges. We recommend thinking about your plan in detail and trying to foresee the potential problems in your way. Besides, there’s nothing more inspirational than a sense of accomplishment when you cross a goal off your to-do list!

Asking for feedback.

Asking your teacher or peers for feedback greatly influences the quality of your learning process. Sometimes other people see our strengths and weaknesses better than we do. However, note that listening to feedback is not enough. You have to incorporate it into your life in order to achieve personal growth.

Keeping a diary.

Keeping a diary helps you to organize your thoughts and make them more straightforward. It is also a beneficial tool for tracking your progress over the years. Once you start journaling regularly, you will feel an urge to express your thoughts and emotions, which is very helpful when you want to reflect on them later.

Taking time to self-reflect.

Self-reflection improves your memory and keeps your mind active. Looking back on what subjects you liked and disliked, what tasks you found stressful, and what mistakes you typically made can give you a better understanding of your academic path.

🤔 20 Questions to Evaluate Your Metacognition

The best way to master metacognitive skills is to ask yourself the right questions. By asking yourself psychological questions, you encourage self-reflection and can think deeply about yourself as a person and learner.

Here’s a list of questions that will improve your self-awareness.

  • What was your role during the teamwork activity?
  • What contribution did you make to finding the solution?
  • How did the opinions of team members influence you?
  • Were you happy about the group dynamics you had?
  • Would you consider taking a leadership position or a supporting role next time?
  • What did you find easy and challenging while completing the task?
  • What was your impression of the results you got?
  • What other solutions could you have come up with?
  • What stage of the learning process do you find the most challenging?
  • What was the most important thing for you to discover?
  • How did you realize that you had come up with the best solution?
  • What were the factors that influenced your thinking process?
  • Did you rely on outside sources or your own knowledge?
  • What does prove and contradict your solution?
  • What factors might lead you to an alternative answer?
  • What were some of the hardest moments of your learning?
  • What were the most inspirational moments of your learning?
  • How do your studies relate to real-world situations and problems?
  • Were your milestones and goals met?
  • How did your goals change during the learning process?

🚀 Metacognitive Strategies – How to Study Smarter

Everyone can master metacognitive skills if they put enough time and effort into them. Consider these strategies that will help you to improve your metacognitive abilities.

  1. Reflect on your prior knowledge.
    Sitting back to refresh your knowledge in a world of constant informational flow is vital. For example, when attending a new course, check out the topics beforehand. Ask yourself what you know about them already. This will prepare you to absorb the new material better.
  2. Try various memorizing techniques.
    There are several memorization techniques, including mind maps, storytelling, mental imagery, and simply speaking out loud. Learning which approach works for you can save you time and enhance your long-term memory. Next time you’re preparing for a text, experiment with several memorization methods to find out which ones work for you.
  3. Review your tests and exam results.
    Reviewing your exams is a powerful tool to inspire your critical thinking. Spend some time analyzing your mistakes and consider why these questions were challenging for you. This way, you can detect your blind spots and avoid similar mistakes in the future.
  4. Do self-testing.
    Self-testing is a helpful technique to assess your knowledge before an exam. When self-testing becomes a part of your studying routine, you learn to identify what you know and don’t know. When preparing for an exam next time, try to solve some tasks yourself to gain more confidence in your knowledge.
  5. Figure out your learning style.
    Experts usually identify four types of learners: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading or writing. It is essential to find the kind of learning that suits you best to make studying enjoyable. For example, if learning history with the help of textbooks doesn’t work for you, try watching some video lectures. Keep experimenting!
  6. Take regular breaks.
    When mastering your metacognitive skills, you might become absorbed in your learning process. However, staying concentrated and aware of what you’re trying to achieve is essential to learning a new skill. It is better to pause and reflect on what you’ve already achieved and what your next steps can be.
  7. Write down your thoughts.
    Whether you’re trying to learn new material or work on improving your metacognitive skills, always put your ideas on paper. This will help you put in order your thoughts and see connections you might not have noticed before. Moreover, this is a great way to track your personal growth.
The infographic provides tips and strategies for developing one's metacognitive skills.

🧑‍🏫 How to Develop Metacognitive Skills – Final Tips

Metacognitive strategies are one of the most effective methods to improve your academic performance and make you stand out. Mastering metacognitive skills takes time and concentration, but they can significantly contribute to your learning and future success. Here are some tips to make metacognitive skills a part of your study routine.

  • Think aloud when learning new material. Simply talk aloud to yourself or share what you find fascinating with your friends or classmates.
  • Be observant. Pay close attention to people who inspire you and try to identify what traits made them successful.
  • Experiment with your learning styles. Don’t be afraid to try new things even if you’ve studied with flashcards for your whole life. See what else works for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something. This will improve your self-awareness and spark your curiosity.
  • Set goals, even minor ones. Consider what techniques you can apply to reach your goal and reflect on what you find challenging.

If you feel like you spend a lot of time studying, but all the hard work doesn’t improve your exam performance, this might indicate that you need to work on your metacognitive skills. The concept of “learning how to learn” can make studying enjoyable as well as boost your academic performance. The key to mastering metacognitive skills is asking self-reflective questions to encourage you to think deeper. Remember that it’s never too late to integrate metacognition into your studies because learning is a life-long journey!

🔗 References

  1. How Metacognition Boosts Learning | Edutopia
  2. Metacognitive Prompts To Help Students Reflect On Their Learning
  3. 5 Metacognitive Questions For Students Learning New Material | Edutopia
  4. Metacognitive Study Strategies | Learning Center
  5. Metacognitive Strategies (How People Learn) | Center for Teaching Innovation
  6. 50 Questions To Help Students Think About What They Think