What is metacognition for students?

This blog answers questions about: What is metacognition for students? What are some metacognition strategies for students?

What is metacognition for students?

Metacognition for students refers to “thinking about thinking”. It was a concept introduced by John Flavell. He referred to metacognition as the knowledge one holds about their cognitive process.

In addition to being aware of one’s cognitive processes, a student can reflect on the task that they undertake using the appropriate strategy.

Metacognition is a crucial component of positive learning in a student’s life. It involves principles of self-reflection, self-regulation, and being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses.

Students’ awareness of their strengths and weaknesses can be a major tool in helping them succeed in various domains of their life.

What are some metacognition strategies for students?

Metacognitive strategies refer to the tools that students can use to monitor their self-improvement and become positive learners. It requires a student to control their thinking in ways that help them to meet their goals optimally.


Self-questioning requires a student to take recurrent pauses during a particular task and check on one’s behavior. Students usually carry out self-questioning while completing the task and after completing the tasks in the form of self-reflection.

Such questioning is a way through which students can improve their performance in a particular task. Without this, students lack questioning themselves which would otherwise help to fill up some crucial gaps.

Some examples of self-questioning during a task might involve:

Did I miss out on something?

How can I do this task better the next time?

Am I looking at the task in the right way?


Meditation is known to be one of the most effective metacognitive strategies to help keep a student’s mind clear. Meditation helps to clear out the chaos that goes on in a student’s head due to internal and external affairs. It helps a student to stay focused and calm during learning.

It is believed that meditation is carried out to become more aware of one’s own inner self and thought process.


The concept of self-reflection involves taking breaks to think about one’s task at hand. It involves consciously reflecting on the way a student thinks to improve their task or performance.

Several steps are involved in the self-reflection process which is as follows:

  • Planning a task
  • Attempting the task
  • Understanding how one performed the task
  • Coming up with the positives of the task with a focus on improving one weak point
  • Trying again and

Consciously self-reflecting

Once a student masters the skill of self-reflection reflecting upon one’s task can be done simultaneously while performing it helping a student to make quick adjustments to one’s thinking process.

Being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses

The backbone of metacognitive strategies is the student’s ability to identify their weaknesses and strengths. One can do this by carrying out a general assessment of their weaknesses and strengths to achieve significant improvement.

A student can carry out a genuine assessment by making a chart of four major sections which are:

  • Weaknesses: writing down what a student thinks their weaknesses are.
  • Strengths: writing down what a student perceives their strengths are.
  • Opportunities: identifying opportunities that helped to improve the students’ cognitive skills over a period
  • Threats: identifying the potential trends that might act as barriers to improving the student’s cognitive skills over a period.

Being aware of one’s learning styles

Learning theories argue that different students have different ways of learning particular concepts. For instance, some students feel they learn better through imagery than through reading while it is the opposite for other students

Some common learning styles used by students might include:


Students who use visuals to learn perform best through looking at images, graphics, graphs, and visual documentaries. They are experts at identifying various patterns and designs.


Many students learn best through listening rather than watching and reading. These students enjoy when they are read stories to and find podcasts pleasurable.


A kinesthetic learner best learns through movements. These students learn by doing things rather than listening and reading. They are more active than passive.

Use of Mnemonics

Mnemonics can be looked at as a useful tool that students can use to improve their retention capacity. This might include various tools like forming associations, use of rhymes, patterns, and abbreviations.

Mnemonics Make it much easier to recall information by adding context to a fact.

Some important tools of mnemonics are:


Making rhymes out of a name helps to remember and recall the name much better the next time a student encounters it.


Forming associations particularly between familiar and unfamiliar entities makes it easier for students to remember information.

For example, remembering people with names shared by your family members are much easier to recall than those names that are completely unfamiliar.

Writing down you’re working

Many teachers insist that the students make a note of their working for a solution. Making notes about the steps to achieve the solution helps students to analyze their steps and reflect upon them.

Making a note of the steps that lead to a particular solution or particular task also helps to identify the positives and negatives through the way.

Thinking aloud

One of the important sociocultural theories of education given by Lev Vygotsky indicates that new learners tend to think aloud before internalizing their thinking. The theory proposes that thinking aloud makes a student think deep.

Thinking aloud not only helps students become more conscious about their cognitive processes but also helps other students identify areas that are going astray.

Graphic organizers

Graphic organizer refers to a tool also called cognitive tools. These tools help to improve students thinking process by assisting them in

  • Organizing their thoughts
  • Creating links between things that they know
  • Thinking in-depth about a particular topic
  • Visualizing procedures and processes

Graphic organizers can be seen in the form of flowcharts and mind maps. By using a graphic organizer a student can think more effectively about their cognitive processes.

Regulation checklists

A regulation checklist can be general or task-based. A task-based regulation checklist is usually created before a student starts a task, it helps in:

  • Listing down the thought processes required to succeed in a task.
  • Listing the observable outcomes or higher-order thinking related to the task.
  • Listing the checkpoints that students must pause to reflect on their thinking.

On the other hand, a general regulation checklist helps students identify strategies that can be used across any normal task such as:

  • Self-questioning prompts
  • Questionnaires and quick charts to help focus on their development
  • Prompts regarding strategies that are being used based on their appropriateness
  • Reminders to reflect on the task at regular intervals

Active reading strategies

Reading strategies are strategies that ensure a student concentrate while they are reading and comprehend the information correctly.

Some reading strategies that students can adopt are:

  • Underlining text: this involves underlining key points to retain for longer
  • Using a ruler to read: Many students can use rulers under the sentences that they are currently reading to help them focus on that particular line.
  • Scan for the main ideas: In terms of informational text students can scan for information that they need by paying close attention to the subheadings that act as clues for key information

Active listening strategies

Active listening strategies are some ways that students ensure they are actively and attentively listening.

Some examples of active listening strategies involve:

  • Facing the speakers directly
  • Making eye contact
  • Asking questions
  • Acknowledging the speaker when required
  • Repeating and rephrasing what was said by the speaker.

Planning ahead

Planning about how a student will take forward a task might be an important metacognitive strategy. It involves thinking about what a student is going to do to accomplish their task.

Planning might involve making decisions about a few crucial elements such as:

  • Noting down the strategies one will adopt during the initiation of the task
  • Mapping out to various skills that one might need to use for completing a task appropriately
  • keeping in mind the mistakes that a student made in the past and consciously reminding themselves not to do them again
  • keeping some additional tools at hand to help stay focused on the completion of the task such as making graphics.


When students think about their thinking they are more eligible for self-improvement. Metacognitive strategies can be practiced, learned, and inculcated into one’s habits to improve learning, studying, and thinking.

Frequently asked questions

What are the four types of metacognitive?

Perkins described 4 levels of metacognitive learners which are tactic, aware, strategic, and reflective. Tactic learners are those who are unaware of their cognitive knowledge. They do not process any particular strategies for learning and hardly acknowledge the information they already hold. 

What are metacognitive skills?

Metacognition is described as one’s awareness about their thought process or any relational elements. Possessing metacognitive skills indicates being well aware of one’s thought process through various tools and measures which aim towards improved learning.

What are the three categories of metacognitive knowledge?

Flavell divided metacognitive knowledge into three sectors that are the knowledge of person variables, task variables, and strategy variables.

What are the types of metacognition?

Metacognition is broken down into three sectors that are metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive experience, and metacognitive strategies. All of these fall under the wide bracket of being in control of one’s thinking process using strategies such as organizing and monitoring.


13 Examples of Metacognitive Strategies