Metacognition can be summarized as the ability to reflect on one’s cognitive processes, allowing us to identify our mistakes and successes, understand their origin, and adjust our goals. Developing metacognitive skills is one of the best ways to improve the quality of learning. The main definition of this notion attributes the following three components to it:
- Metacognitive knowledge
- Metacognitive strategies
- Metacognitive experiences
This “knowledge” includes facts but also beliefs and memories. Therefore, it is not necessarily accurate and may be incomplete. Metacognitive knowledge has the potential to help us achieve a goal, but it can also hinder it.
It encompasses what we know…
- About ourselves: the representations we have of our personality, our strengths, our weaknesses, our way of learning, etc.
- About the task: the representations we have of the nature and context of the task, its demands, its usefulness, etc.
- About the cognitive strategies: what we know about the most effective methods for carrying out an activity
Also called metacognitive “skills” or “abilities,” these strategies are of two kinds and are carried out consciously. First, we speak of metacognitive monitoring and, second, metacognitive control.
- Metacognitive monitoring is a process of self-observation that involves monitoring and evaluating our cognitive strategies to see if they are on track to achieve our goals.
- Metacognitive control is the process of taking action based on the observations made. It is here that we determine whether we need to modify our strategies and correct ourselves. Metacognitive control is also used to plan and manage the tasks to be accomplished.
As described by two theorists, metacognitive experiences are the “product of the process of monitoring cognition” (Büchel, 2013a; Efklides, 2001). They are made possible by linking knowledge and metacognitive strategies to achieve a goal. Emotions and motivation have a considerable role in how we experience our metacognitive experiences.