Metacognitive Skills

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Definition of Metacognitive Skills
Metacognitive Skills are Fundamental to a CBA
Additional Resources Related to Metacognitive Skills

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Definition of Metacognitive Skills

Hacker (2009) defines metacognition as a set of skills. His definition was retrieved from: Metacognitive Awareness 5-1-16

When researching metacognition you will find many references to “metacognitive skills” and “metacognitive strategies.” The meanings of both terms are useful in understanding what we do once we are aware (have knowledge about) our metacognitive processes. Both terms suggest that we act on our awareness, that we use our knowledge to effect change in the way we control and manage our mental processes. Becoming skilled at dealing with our metacognition denotes that we have achieved a level of proficiency or expertise in improving a metacognitive process. Using a metacognitive strategy indicates that we have selected an appropriate approach and developed a plan to improve a metacognitive process.

As was noted in the “Metacognitive Awareness” section, there are two key aspects of metacognition: “awareness of cognition” (which allows us to identify what is influencing our learning and performance) and the “regulation of cognition” (which allows us to select appropriate responses for specific situations in order to improve the way we control our learning processes and analyze the results).

This section will focus on the regulation of cognition, what school counselors can do to help students become skilled in controlling and managing their metacognitive processes, selecting and applying appropriate strategies to improve their learning outcomes, and evaluating the results of their efforts to improve. To accomplish this, we will first look at the role of school counselors in developing students’ metacognitive abilities and then consider strategies school counselors can use to help students become skilled at actively monitoring, controlling and managing their metacognitive functions.

Metacognitive Skills are Fundamental to a CBA

Metacognitive skill development is one of the primary ways that school counselors help students learn. For the purpose of this website, we are going to focus on three primary ways school counselors help students achieve and succeed: teaching students how to learn, how to plan for their future success and how to cope with the many challenges of growing up and being prepared to enter and benefit from educational and career opportunities in the postsecondary world.

Much of the work of school counselors involves helping students develop metacognitive awareness (knowledge about their own mental processes) so they can actively control their learning processes, academic and career development, and social relationships. The internet is filled with metacognition-related topics that can be taught. The majority of sources will focus on processes such as self-reflection, planning, monitoring progress and evaluating the results of implementing one’s plan.

Additional Resources Related to Metacognitive Skills

The Internet is a wonderful tool for accessing information on just about any topic. It has been invaluable in helping us to identify what research has demonstrated to be strongly related to students’ academic achievement and well-being, and evidence-based practices that provide concrete examples of how to translate the research findings into meaningful learning opportunities that support student development.


Staying informed about what works and does not work to help students achieve and succeed is one of the defining characteristics of a professional school counselor. Internet search engines can be used to develop a deeper understanding of the topics discussed on the CBA Website. To get you started, here are some additional resources you may find helpful. These resources, however, only scratch the surface of what is available on the Internet or in published books and articles. We encourage you to use search engines to find more resources that will increase your understanding and build your capacity to apply these ideas in your work as school counselors.


An interview with Dr. Saundra Mcguireat the LSU Center for Academic Success on thinking about thinking. Discusses some strategies to use to develop metacognitive skills.

This video is a pre-recorded Lecture #3 for EDUC 140: Mind, Belief and Behavior: Learning in a Diverse World. It focuses on metacognition and self-regulation.

A video on developing metacognitive skills that would be good to show to students.

Steve Reifman, a third grade teacher, explains how he teaches his students to think about their thinking.


      Suggested strategies for developing metacognitive skills.

      This article from the Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL) Center provides a Fact Sheet on Metacognitive Processes.” It defines metacognition, identifies the elements of metacognition, discusses why metacognitive skills should be taught, research on metacognition, and recommended instructional strategies.

      A slide presentation by Jane Sutton on developing metacognitive skills in your students.