Research on How Metacognition Improves Learning

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When asked about the word “metacognition,” most students can define this word, some have an idea of what it is, and the rest are hearing of this word for the first time. Metacognition is one of the tools we use when learning. It is “knowing what one knows and doesn’t know-a student’s ability to self-monitor levels of understanding and predict how well (s)he will do on a particular task” (Unruh, 2020). Using metacognitive strategies, students are said to be studying actively. The premises behind active learning in metacognition is that student’s memory, attention and understanding increases with involvement in the classroom or any learning environment. Metacognition can improve learning because it facilitates active learning, allows for adjustment of cognitive practices and help students identify goals and way to achieve those goals.

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Metacognition can improve a student’s performance because it facilitates active learning. Active learning is the process of having students engage in some activities that forces them to reflect upon ideas and how they are using those ideas. (Unruh, 2020) Active learning techniques such as Cornell note-taking, parallel note-taking and SQ3R technique promotes metacognitive learning. This serves as a tool that promotes knowledge building and facilitates content area learning. Most teachers confront the reality that students have short attention in the classroom as they are seen sleeping, texting, chatting or even looking at something else outside the classroom. This is no issue with Cornell note-taking as it facilitates learning during note-taking. The best proof to show active learning is note taking and listening actively in class is the only way to get information. Students can also pick up new words when listening in the classroom. Vocabulary is a major issue for students especially for non-English speakers. The cue column in the Cornell note-taking technique gives students the room to be able to take these words down. Students who are engaged with learning materials are likely to show more understanding which leads to better academic performance.

Metacognition allows for adjustment of cognitive practices. According to Mosby (2001), cognitive means pertaining to the mental processes, of comprehension, judgement, memory, reasoning, as contrasted with emotional and volitional processes. Cognitive skills are schematising, summarising after reading, reviewing information read, comparing information and structuring. With metacognition, students can now adjust their learning style and create a better learning environment. Examples, a student who always summarize key words and concept when reading then go back to revise those words would do better than students who just pay attention in class without doing further study. This is because the best way to improve learning is by learning. A student must use cognitive skills when learning.

Metacognition allows students identify goals and ways to achieve these goals. Goal setting is the foundation for good academic performance. When a student knows what (s)he wants to achieve during that academic year, then they know how to strategize to achieve this goal. Metacognition plays a huge role in student’s goals as students can measure their efforts and work done to see if they have improved. Students can question themselves on their academic performance and see how they can do better next time. They could also see areas that are their weakness. Example if a student studies hard but loses point in their work, a student may access it and see what they did wrong; it could be spelling error, or they missed keywords when describing a concept. Then using metacognition, a student can then adjust their learning style so they can achieve their goals the next time.

In conclusion, metacognition is an effective way to improve learning because it facilitates active learning, allows for adjustment of cognitive practices and help students identify goals and way to achieve those goals through self-assessment. Moreover, minor learning difficulties such as short-term memory, short attention span and vocabulary can be fixed with metacognition. Students should also be aware that metacognition is a process and it does take a long time to be good at, but it will be worth it.  

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