What is ‘metacognition’?

This DEMOS report from 2004 has an interesting review of some of the effectiveness of ‘learning to learn’ programmes within teaching:

DEMOS (2004) About learning

There’s a nice bit on ‘metacognition’ – a concept that often seems a bit vague and mysterious at times!

Examples of metacognition – what does it allow students to do?

° become aware of the difference between memorising and understanding material, and realise that these require different mental strategies (can I remember this? is this something I need to remember? have I really grasped what this is about?)
° recognise which parts of the material are difficult and demand more attention (this bit is easy, but I need to spend more time on that bit)
° question or test themselves that they are understanding the material (how am I doing? does it make sense to me?)
° learn when it is appropriate to seek help from the teacher (I’m stuck and the several strategies I’ve tried aren’t working, so I need help).

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