Metacognition means thinking about thinking. It refers to thinking which involves active control over the cognitive processes engaged in learning. Activities such as planning how to approach a given learning task, monitoring comprehension, and evaluating progress toward the completion of a task are metacognitive in nature. Metacognition is the ability to be aware of your own learning processes, as well as knowing what works best for you. It means being able to recognize whether you are learning the information you are studying, and knowing how to improve your learning. Many students think about metacognition as their "inner coach," their awareness and knowledge of how they learn and how they will control the process.

It is important that you are aware of your own learning process and that you take steps to monitor your learning

There are three key components to metacognition: Awareness, Knowledge, and Control.

1. Awareness

Awareness involves being attentive about what learning strategy you should use and how to use it. Setting goals for yourself would be a good way to be aware of the tasks you have on hand. Also, since we all learn by building upon existing knowledge, it is important for you to identify what you know about the topic or problem you want to learn. This knowledge may come from earlier classes in the course, other courses, your personal experience, literature, films, or other –formal or informal- sources.

2. Knowledge

Knowledge involves knowing about the learning process in general and specifically how you learn under different conditions. Having this type of knowledge will help you understand and identify a learning strategy that would suit you best. For example, knowing when you would need to apply a different learning strategy to study a historical work, and another strategy to analyze a court case is considered knowledge in metacognition.

Perry’s model of help you learn more about the learning process. William Perry claimed that individuals went through four stages of development during their college years.


·          Stage 1 is called the Dualism stage because students tend to divide the world into right/wrong, true/false good/bad dichotomies. Students view the teacher as right and that the student’s role is to give the teacher back what they have received. They are frustrated when asked to listen to other students’ opinions (since they are likely to be wrong) and content when the teacher is clear and comfortable in lectures and assignments.

·          Stage 2 is called the Multiplicity stage because students have come to realize that other than a few dualistic areas, most knowledge is a matter of opinion and, therefore, any opinion is knowledgeable. The student’s role is to offer their ideas. They are frustrated when they find that requirements restrict them and happy when allowed to express themselves.

·          Stage 3 is called the Contextual Relativism stage. Students recognize that there are disciplinary guidelines for choosing among various opinions. They accept that it is the student’s role to apply the skills and knowledge base of the academic field. They are frustrated when arbitrary opinions seem to rule and content when they have the information they need to use to form a solid judgment.

·          Stage 4 is called the Commitment within Contextual Relativism stage. In it, students connect their disciplinary skills to new settings and see the need to apply knowledge and skills to settings outside the classroom. They are frustrated by activities that cover content without knowing relevant applications and happy when allowed to apply ideas to everyday problems.

I expect that by the end of the course most of you will be either at stage 2 or 3. But please note that learning is not a linear process. You will probably reach stage 3 and then go back to stage 2, and later progress again toward stage 3. It is also likely that in some areas of the course you will be at stage 2 while in others you will be in stage 1.


3. Control

Control involves monitoring your own progress. You can do this by asking yourself questions like “Have I understood the information I am studying?” or “Am I keeping up with my study plan and goals?” To do this, you must first identify the learning strategy that works best with the information you need to learn. You may also want to check what stage of Perry’s model you are at.