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Definition of Metacognition

What is Metacognition?


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Definition: The term metacognition refers to the processes that allow people to reflect on their own cognitive abilities. In other words, metacognition allows people to know what they know, or to think about their thinking.

Metacognitive processes include planning, monitoring one's own thoughts, problem solving, making decisions and evaluating one's thought processes. It also involves the use of strategies for remembering information. Metacognition is vital to the learning process.

Metacognitive skills develop during childhood. Tweens tend to have relatively strong metacognitive abilities compared to young children. Just as tweens are still developing cognitively, however, they are also continuing to experience metacognitive developments. Tweens who have stronger metacognitive skills tend to perform better academically than tweens with weaker skills.

Parents can support the development of metacognition by encouraging their children to reflect on their own thoughts. For instance, parents might ask, "How did you make that decision?" or "What strategy did you use to remember what to buy at the store?"


Sternberg R.. (1985) Approaches to intelligence. In Chipman SF, Segal JW & Glaser R. (eds.) Thinking and learning skills, vol 2, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum

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