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Metacognition is the ability to think about our internal cognitive processes, or to "think about thinking". By using metacognitive skills to continually monitor and regulate their thinking and understanding, learners are able to better plan their strategies and assess resources, ultimately becoming better problem solvers, decision makers, and critical thinkers.
Metacognitive skills help adults adapt both their internal strategies and external behavior, allowing flexibility in varied settings. Though metacognitive skills stay relatively stable over the lifespan, the different facets of Metacognition show different developmental trends. There are several important components of Metacognition:
Metacognitive knowledge is the knowledge we have about our cognitive processes and provides a basis for metacognitive procedures. This facet of Metacognition has been found to decline with age. Metacognitive knowledge includes:
Metacognitive regulation is the use of metacognitive knowledge to guide behavior, and involves two important skills that continually interact to help us read and write more effectively:
Metacognition is critical in "unlearning", or the process of replacing memories and habits that no longer benefit us. This allows learners to widen their perspectives and adapt to new information. Unlearning can range from adjusting to new processes at work to letting go of long-held biases.