Metacognition Facilitation in Higher Education


Metacognition, or the ability to understand one’s way of thinking, remains a critical skill for students to improve their learning habits and school performance. It directly affects one’s ability to plan, evaluate, and adjust activities in such a manner that benefits them the most. In other words, it is a flexible approach to thinking that boosts academic performance, and teachers should explain it to students. Ultimately, the current essay thoroughly examines strategies and approaches that educators can use to facilitate students’ metacognition.


As seen from the introduction, improving one’s metacognition is a process that requires cooperation and mutual understanding. Sword (2021) explains that the primary method to focus on metacognition in education is demonstrating to students that each of them is an individual with a unique approach to learning. Hence, the starting point in this methodology is that pupils need to understand that not every academic strategy will work for them, and they must learn to evaluate their own results (Sword, 2021). Although teachers play a crucial role in this process, metacognition requires the competencies of critical thinking and cognitive awareness from the students (Woolfolk & Hoy, 2003). For instance, Parrish (2022) thoroughly shows that many students in K-12 do not understand why they are studying in the first place. If they do not perceive education as a benefit for them, it is a highly challenging task to make them evaluate and plan their studies. Hence, the first objective that educators need to achieve is to establish trusty communication with students and explain why education might be beneficial for them, creating the groundwork for metacognition improvement.


The first specific strategy that facilitates metacognition is planning which encompasses such areas as curriculums, lesson structures, and even learning strategies. For teachers, this concept implies a thorough understanding of how to present learning materials in the most easy-to-understand manner and teach students about the significance of scheduling (Stanton et al., 2021). The research shows that planning is the essential component of metacognitive regulation, and teachers should foster it by applying the principles of planning in their own lessons (Stanton et al., 2021). For instance, explaining the reasoning behind the curriculum, learning approaches, and the differences between various education methods can help students understand why certain things are planned in a certain way (Nilson, 2003). Stanton et al. (2021) confirm the link between the ability to plan and other metacognition components, such as evaluation and monitoring. However, planning is one of the more easy-to-understand elements, and teachers should emphasize it to improve students’ overall metacognition.

Learning Journals and Self-Awareness

The second strategy focuses on the other two elements of metacognitive regulation – evaluation and monitoring. These factors positively impact the self-awareness competency of students, but research shows that it is challenging to teach pupils to assess their performance (Stanton et al., 2021). One of the easiest methods to implement it in actual practice is giving “learning journal” assignments and other reflective learning tasks. Extensive research shows that when students re-evaluate their experiences in learning journals, they naturally improve their metacognitive abilities (Bruno & Dell’Aversana, 2018). Ultimately, teachers can utilize a wide range of reflective exercises, but learning journals have proven to be effective instruments for facilitating metacognition.

Problem-Solving Mindset

Lastly, teachers can utilize strategies that focus on problem-solving to improve students’ metacognition. Siagian et al. (2019) demonstrate that Problem Based Learning (PBL) in math boosts learners’ productivity and metacognition competencies. The authors propose that this effect occurs because cognitive efforts to choose the appropriate strategy and conscious choice of learned theories and formulas positively impact students’ self-awareness (Siagian et al., 2019). Although most studies do not directly emphasize the link between problem-solving and metacognition, another research by Özcan and Gümüş (2019) confirms the correlation. Namely, the authors have revealed that students with better metacognition results (according to the survey) achieve significantly better results in math assignments that require problem-solving competencies (Özcan and Gümüş, 2019). Hence, educators can utilize this approach to facilitate students’ metacognition. However, it is critical to note that, in all of the mentioned strategies, learners still require a certain degree of guidance. Therefore, educators should always find an appropriate balance between guidance/assistance and the autonomous work of students.


Teaching students how to become conscious thinkers is one of the direct objectives of education. In this context, facilitating metacognition is a necessary strategy that allows students to reflect on their learning habits and become more self-efficient learners. Hence, educators should focus on three primary regulatory metacognitive elements – planning, monitoring, and evaluation. These competencies are critical for any individual in education and might significantly help students in their adult lives when they might experience a lack of guidance. In this context, the most effective strategies include an explanation of education benefits to students, self-reflective assignments, and problem-solving tasks. These approaches directly focus on the three regulatory metacognitive elements, significantly improving students’ metacognition. As a result, students achieve a greater degree of self-awareness and become more competent in making weighted choices in education and life. Ultimately, facilitating metacognition is a challenging but rewarding task that educators should encourage via reflective and problem-solving assignments.


Bruno, A., & Dell’Aversana, G. (2018). Reflective practicum in higher education: The influence of the learning environment on the quality of learning. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(3), 345-358. Web.

Nilson, L. B. (2003). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors. John Wiley & Sons.

Özcan, Z. Ç., & Gümüş, A. (2019). A modeling study to explain mathematical problem-solving performance through metacognition, self-efficacy, motivation, and anxiety. Australian Journal of Education, 63(1), 116-134. Web.

Parrish, N. (2022). How to get students thinking about their own learning. Edutopia. Web.

Siagan, M. V., Saragih, S., & Sinaga, B. (2019). Development of learning materials oriented on Problem-Based Learning model to improve students’ mathematical problem-solving ability and metacognition ability. International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education, 14(2), 331-340. Web.

Stanton, J. D., Sebesta, A. J., & Dunlosky, J. (2021). Fostering metacognition to support student learning and performance. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 20(2). Web.

Sword, R. (2021). Metacognition in the classroom: Benefits & strategies. High Speed Training. Web.

Woolfolk, A., & Hoy, W. K. (2003). Instructional leadership: A research-based guide to learning in schools. Pearson.

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ChalkyPapers. "Metacognition Facilitation in Higher Education." August 31, 2023.