Hardly anyone questions the reality or importance of metacognition. Yet among those who study it, there is considerable debate about the scope and meaning of the term and the nature and interrelations among the various types of metacognitive knowledge and processes that have proliferated in the psychological literature (Alexander, Schallert, and Hare, 1991). The purpose of this paper is to consider how individuals consolidate different kinds of metacognitive knowledge and regulatory skills into systematized cognitive frameworks that we refer to as metacognitive theories.
This paper proposes a framework for understanding people’s theories about their own cognition. Metacognitive theories are defined broadly as systematic frameworks used to explain and direct cognition, metacognitive knowledge, and regulatory skills. We distinguish tacit, informal, and formal metacognitive theories and discuss critical differences among them using criteria borrowed from the developmental literature. We also consider the origin and development of these theories, as well as implications for educational research and practice.