Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in The Nebraska Educator 3 (2016). doi:10.13014/K21Z429D


Copyright © 2016 The University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


This article makes the case for why it is important for educators to intentionally foster students’ metacognition. Metacognition is often defined as thinking about thinking, but it is more complete to describe it as including knowledge, awareness, and control of one’s own cognition and human cognition in general. Two primary components of metacognition, knowledge of cognition and regulation of cognition, are presented and described with regard to learning contexts. Metacognition grows as part of cognitive development and can also be further enhanced through instruction at all levels of schooling. Research that indicates metacognition can be increased through instruction and is associated with academic achievement is reviewed. Steps for embedding metacognition instruction are described and principles for incorporating metacognition instruction into classroom instruction are presented. Metacognition instruction, including strategy instruction, may be either implicit or explicit, and can and should be incorporated into typical classroom instruction.