Handbook of Metacognition in Education

Handbook of Metacognition in Education

Handbook of Metacognition in Education

Handbook of Metacognition in Education


Providing comprehensive coverage of the theoretical bases of metacognition and its applications to educational practice, this compendium of focused and in-depth discussions from leading scholars in the field:

  • represents an intersection of education, cognitive science, and technology;
  • serves as a gateway to the literature for researchers and practitioners interested in one or more of the wide array of topics included; and
  • sets the standard for scholarship for theoretical research and practical applications in this field.

The Handbook of Metacognition in Education -- covering Comprehension Strategies, Metacognitive Strategies, Metacomprehension, Writing, Science and Mathematics, Individual Differences, Self-Regulated Learning, Technology, Tutoring, and Measurement -- is an essential resource for researchers, faculty, students, curriculum developers, teachers, and others interested in using research and theory on metacognition to guide and inform educational practice.


Today is April 22, 2008. It is a fairly random day—the day I happen to be writing this foreword. I mention the date, though, because it is a particularly important day for the United States. For one thing, it is the day of the Pennsylvania primary. Hillary Clinton is reported in a headline by CNN online to have said, “I have to win” the Pennsylvania primary (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/04/22/pa.primary/index.html, retrieved April 22, 2008). She was right, and she won. Another headline reads “Gallup record: 69% disapprove of Bush … Highest negative for a president in 70 years of poll” (Gallup record: 69% disapprove of Bush, 2008). But on this same day the New York Times online has a smiling picture of George W. Bush with the headline, “Politicians as comics” (www.nytimes.com, retrieved April 22, 2008). On other websites, there are more smiling pictures of Bush.

It is by reading a few headlines on any random day, such as today, that one learns why metacognition is so important to psychology and to the world. Whether one likes Hillary Clinton or not, her metacognitive processes are on target: She knows that she needs to win the Pennsylvania primary, and win it big, to stay in the race for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, George W. Bush goes through his presidency, from all appearances, oblivious to the disaster that his presidency has become in the public eye, if one views record-bottom popularity ratings as disastrous, as at least some readers might. Would you be smiling and oblivious if you learned that you were viewed as the least successful psychologist in 70 years?

Given the importance of metacognition in our lives, it is rather astonishing, as White, Frederiksen, and Collins (this volume) point out, that statewide mastery tests have all but ignored metacognition in their assessments. The skills involved may be measured indirectly, but given the kinds of advances described in this handbook, such measurement is indirect and minimal, at best. The tests are, metaphorically, shooting a .44 magnum bullet—at the wrong target.

The reason the target is wrong is that, in the long run, much of the knowledge we acquire in school that is so important in tests will be forgotten anyway. I once knew how to compute a cosecant. Today I don’t remember even what it is. I once knew what a halogen is. Those days too are long past. In my own field of psychology, I got a terrible start with a C in introductory psychology. When I sat down to write my own introductory psychology textbook, published 27 years after my ignominious grade, I discovered that most of the material covered by textbooks in 1968 was no longer even being taught in 1995. The knowledge had become largely irrelevant. The important things to acquire from the courses were not the textbook factoids, but rather, the learning to learn skills and the skills in accessing a knowledge base that form the heart of metacognition.

One could argue over who introduced the concept of metacognition. Certainly Flavell (e.g., Flavell, 1979) and Brown (e.g., Brown, 1980) would deserve much of the credit. In . . .

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