Date of this Version
Published in Issues in the Measurement of Metacognition, ed. Gregory Schraw & James C. Impara (Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, 2000).
Metacognition has been defined as the ability to monitor, evaluate, and make plans for one's learning (Flavell, 1979; Brown, 1980). Research has shown that learners with effective metacognitive skills are more capable of making accurate estimates of what they know and do not know, of monitoring and evaluating their on-going learning activities, and of developing plans and selecting strategies for learning new material. A large body of literature, reviewed in the other chapters of this volume, has reported differences in metacognitive abilities between learning disabled and regular students, as well as between generally capable learners and their less able counterparts. This research clearly indicates that metacognitive abilities are critically important for effective learning.
Metacognitive processes are usually divided (Pintrich, Wolters, & Baxter, this volume) into three components: knowledge about metacognition, monitoring of metacognitive processes, and control of those processes. The research described in this chapter concentrates on the monitoring component of metacognition, specifically students' abilities to monitor their learning by differentiating between the known and unknown. It is assumed that effective control of learning cannot occur in the absence of accurate monitoring. If students cannot distinguish between what they know and do not know, they can hardly be expected to exercise control over their learning activities, or to select appropriate strategies to attain their goals.