Metacognitive Skills

Metacognition refers to people’s beliefs and awareness of their own thought processes. Metacognition applies to teaching and learning because an important part of student success is understanding effective vs. ineffective study strategies, understanding how (and when) to assess learning, and how to make study decisions based on an assessment of learning.

This website consists of a list of resources related to metacognition applied to student learning. Some of the links are specifically about metacognition and student learning. Others are about research-based learning strategies that students in any discipline can use. Learning strategies are relevant to metacognition because many students and faculty members do not have a complete understanding of which strategies are most effective.

Resources for teachers and students who want practical and usable information about how to use metacognitive knowledge and effective study strategies to improve learning.

1.  "How to get the most out of studying" video series by Stephen Chew


2.  Putnam, A. L., Sungkhasettee, V. W., & Roediger, H. L. (2016). Optimizing learning in college: Tips from cognitive psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(5), 652-660. 

  • Usable advice for college students on how to organize your studying and use effective study strategies.


3.  Bjork, R. A., Dunlosky, J., & Kornell, N. (2013). Self-regulated learning: Beliefs, techniques, and illusions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 417-444. doi:

  • A review of literature on how students think about their own learning strategies. The authors discuss how and why students are often incorrect about what effective learning strategies look like. They also provide practical suggestions for using more effective strategies.


4.  Make It Stick : The Science of Successful Learning  (e-book)

  • A readable book written by two cognitive psychologists and a professional writer. This book provides an excellent overview of effective learning strategies, and includes stories and examples of people who make good use of them. The authors also discuss why people sometimes do not use effective learning strategies.

A sample of research articles on metacognition for those who want more information about the evidence base behind the suggestions.

Hartwig, M. K., & Dunlosky, J. (2012). Study strategies of college students: Are self-testing and scheduling related to achievement? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 19(1), 126-134. doi:

  • The results of a survey of student study strategies, with data showing how they relate to student success.


Wiley, J., Griffin, T. D., Jaeger, A. J., Jarosz, A. F., Cushen, P. J., & Thiede, K. W. (2016). Improving metacomprehension accuracy in an undergraduate course context. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 22(4), 393-405. doi:

  • Describes an experiment testing an instructional intervention designed to improve students’ ability to determine how well they can judge their own understanding of texts they read.


Soderstrom, N. C., Kerr, T. K., & Bjork, R. A. (2016). The critical importance of retrieval—and spacing—for learning. Psychological Science, 27(2), 223-230. doi:

  • Describes an experiment examining two of the most effective study strategies to emerge out of the literature on student learning: testing yourself and spacing out your study sessions.


McDaniel, M. A., Howard, D. C., & Einstein, G. O. (2009). The read-recite-review study strategy: Effective and portable. Psychological Science, 20(4), 516-522. doi:

  • Describes the read-recite-review study strategy. This is an effective and easy to use strategy that students can utilize in just about any course context. The article describes an experiment demonstrating its effectiveness.


Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58. doi:

  • Describes 10 study strategies that students often engage in. For each one, the authors evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy. They find that some highly used strategies are quite ineffective, while other less well-known strategies are much more effective.


Thiede, K. W., de Bruin, A. B. H., Schunk, D. H., & Greene, J. A. (2018). Self-regulated learning in reading. In 2nd ed. (pp. 124-137, Chapter xv, 513 Pages): Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, New York, NY.

  • A book chapter that reviews recent research on comprehension monitoring, which refers to the extent to which students can monitor their own learning as they read. The authors also discuss educational interventions that have been shown to improve comprehension monitoring accuracy. The effective interventions are typically not intuitive, and therefore not used by students.



The following articles are concerned with theoretical aspects of metacognition and the benefits of cultivating metacognition as an intellectual skill both within and outside of school.

On two components of metacognition: monitoring and control:
Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and Cognitive Monitoring:  A new area of cognitive–developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911.

Nelson, T.O. (1996). Consciousness and Metacognition.  American Psychologist, 51, 102–116.

O'Leary, A. P., & Sloutsky, V. M. (2019). Components of Metacognition Can Function Independently Across Development.  Developmental Psychology, 55(2), 315-328.

Slife, B. D., Weiss, J., & Bell, T. (1985). Separability of Metacognition and Cognition: Problem Solving in Learning Disabled and Regular Students.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(4), 437-445.

On unconscious metacognition:
Efklides, A. (2008). Metacognition: Defining its facets and levels of functioning in relation to self-regulation and co-regulation.  European Psychologist, 13(4), 277-287.

Zaromb, F. M., Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, Henry L., I.,II. (2010). Comprehension as a basis for metacognitive judgments: Effects of effort after meaning on recall and metacognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(2), 552-557. 


Evidence for benefits of classroom talk of metacognition on conceptual learning:
Zepeda, C. D., Hlutkowsky, C. O., Partika, A. C., & Nokes-Malach, T. (2018). Identifying teachers’ supports of metacognition through classroom talk and its relation to growth in conceptual learning.  Journal of Educational Psychology, Online First Publication, October 29, 2018.


On the association between metacognition and creative potential:
de Acedo Lizarraga, María, Luisa Sanz, & de Acedo Baquedano, María,Teresa Sanz. (2013). How creative potential is related to metacognition.  European Journal of Education and Psychology, 6(2), 69-81.


On how metacognition fosters cultural learning:
Morris, M. W., Savani, K., & Fincher, K. (2019). Metacognition fosters cultural learning: Evidence from individual differences and situational prompts.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116(1), 46-68.


On metacognition’s role in eudaimonic well-being:
Kiaei, Y. A., & Reio, T. G., Jr. (2014). Goal pursuit and eudaimonic well-being among university students: Metacognition as the mediator.  Behavioral Development Bulletin, 19(4), 91-104.

Page last modified November 4, 2019