Metacognition in 3 Questions

“You [a disciple], shall I teach you about knowledge? What you know, you know, what you don’t know, you don’t know. This is true wisdom.” Some 500 years B.C., Confucius understood the central importance of metacognition to any learning path. What is metacognition? What are metacognitive skills? Why is it essential to develop metacognitive skills? We answer below. What is Metacognition?

Based on its etymology, metacognition is the ability to go “beyond” (meta) the “act of learning” (cognition). To be more precise, it is the ability to become aware of one’s own cognitive processes and to act upon them. Cognitive processes refer to all our mental processes – attention, reasoning, memory, conceptualization, etc. – that enable us to gather information about our environment and interpret it to regulate our behaviour. Like cognition, however, metacognition does involve not only our mental faculties but also our motivation and emotions (see The Importance of Emotions in Learning).

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