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Study Skills & Learning Strategies: Learning & Reflection

What is Metacognition?

Metacognition is about self-reflection and your ability to learn from your reflections. In short, you can think about 'being meta' as being self-reflective or self-aware. Consider this urban dictionary example of the slang/pop culture phrase, 'meta' - 'making a movie about the film industry is not meta' but 'making a movie about making movies is.' In the same way, learning or reflecting is not metacognitive per se, but thinking about how you learn or reflecting on how well you reflect is 'meta'.

Explore the metacognition cycle in this video (1:38). The steps recommended can help you become more self-reflective (or metacognitive) about your learning.

Source: What is metacognition? (Exploring the Metacognition Cycle) by John Spencer on YouTube
The playback speed can be increased by clicking the settings (gear) icon after the video starts.

Using Reflection to Navigate this Guide

The metacognition cycle emphasizes these 5 steps:

i.   Assess the task
ii.  Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses
iii. Plan your approach
iv. Apply strategies, and
v.  Reflect

Reflecting is the most vital step because it allows you to take an inventory of where you are and determine the learning strategies you need. Keep these steps in mind when you interact with the content in this guide:

Respond to the self-reflective questions on each page to (i) assess the task and (ii) evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Then, (iii) plan your approach by (iv) applying strategies from the 'ADOPT, APPLY & ADAPT' columns. Most importantly, (v) reflect, reflect, reflect. Reflect on the strategies you use and adapt as necessary.

Try this process in the activity below by reflecting on, or taking inventory of the metacognition strategies you already use.

Evaluate (Take Inventory)

Think about the learning strategies you use. Begin by self-questioning. Ask yourself self-reflective questions about the strategies you use specifically to learn and study. Perhaps you learn best in a quiet space, or maybe you prefer studying in a group and talking to others. How well are those strategies working, and why? Complete this questionnaire to take an inventory of the metacognitive study strategies you use.

Metacognitive Study Strategies

Personalize/Plan Your Approach

Once you have taken an inventory of the learning strategies you use (or don't use), visit the resource links in the columns below and choose strategies that can help you become more metacognitive or better at learning. Remember, what works for one might not work for another, so choose strategies that resonate with you.


Strategies that enhance your ability to reflect and be metacognitive Strategies that extend your ability to self-question and self-reflect Strategies that extend your choice and control and master your ability to learn


Episode 1: What is Metacognition and Why it is Important to Learning (3:20)

Metacognition: The Skill That Promotes Advanced Learning (5:40)

Incorporating Metacognition Strategies Into The Classroom (2:03)


Metacognitive Study Strategies

Reflecting on Experience

Goals, Objectives, and Reflective Habits


Episode 2: What are the three phases of metacognition? (3:09)

Types of Metacognitive Knowledge (6:38)

What Can People Do to Get Better at Learning (2:50)


25 Self-Reflection Questions about Learning

Reflection Questions to Improve Learning


The 40 Reflection Questions looking Backward, Inward, Outward, and Forward


Episode 3: What is metacognitive knowledge and regulation? (1:37)

The distinction between cognition and metacognition in Introducing Metacognitive Learning Strategies (5:56)

Listen Carefully

The Science of Thinking (12:09) explains why feeling confused or uncomfortable is good for learning


Student Self-Assessment

Understanding Yourself as a Learner

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