Current Research on Learning Mathematics Research Icon


Metacognition is about learning about oneself as a learner, thinker and problem solver. Self-monitoring and reflection can support learning with understanding. Research has shown that when students engage in self-explanations as they solve mathematical problems, they develop a deeper conceptual understanding.

In the classroom, the focus on "right" or "wrong" answers should change to a focus on debugging a wrong answer. A student–teacher or student–student discussion about why the answer is wrong and how to fix it can help students reflect on their own understandings. A safe environment in which the class explores why answers are correct or incorrect encourages students to give and seek help when they are stuck.

Metacognition is closely tied to the ability to self-assess (Donovan and Bransford 2005).
Actively seeking feedback to assess one's own learning and understanding is an important tool for learning. Knowledge about one's own thinking can help students develop the ability to direct their learning, define goals and monitor their own progress.

Support for self-assessment is an important component to effective teaching, since metacognition can help students monitor their own understanding and develop personal strategies when comprehension falters. Such support can include opportunities for testing ideas as well as student discussions to illuminate different perceptions and understandings (Donovan and Bransford 2005).