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A look at the model

Metacognition: The key to success?

Anxiety reduction tips and techniques

Assessing preferences

The research basis for the strategies, tips, and techniques presented

About the author

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)


Metacognition starts with a conscious awareness of what it is you know and what you don't know. It is a critical step in beginning to decide what it is you need to learn. Conscious awareness is the first step; you cannot effectively determine what you need to know until you understand what you do know and don't know.

Once you have an awareness of what you need to learn, the second part of metacognition would be to begin to identify strategies that would help you learn more effectively. Strategies are presented under the topics of motivation, acquisition, retention, and performance. Identify and try some strategies to see which ones work for you.

The third and last part of metacognition, focuses on how effective the strategies you try are working. After assessing the effectiveness of a strategy, you then need to make conscious choices as to the next steps:

  • continue to use the new strategy
  • modify the strategy
  • try a different strategy

Metacognition is the key to choosing which study strategies to try and which study strategies to use. Various study strategies are listed here under the four topics of motivation, acquisition, retention, and performance.


Motivation incorporates attitudes, purpose, and time management as you approach learning situations. Though not truly sequential, motivation can enhance or inhibit learning aspects of each of the categories below.


Acquisition incorporates understanding new information being learned. Strategies for success include study reading, note-taking, and connecting new information to previous knowledge (constructivism). Negative motivators can inhibit acquisition of new information. Negative aspects of acquisition likewise can inhibit retention and performance of new information.


Retention is the ability to access new knowledge learned. Retention incorporates time management, note-taking, study-reading, memory, and vocabulary strategies. Practice, review, understanding, and time in contact with new information enhance retention of new information. Lack of retention will inhibit performance.


Performance is the aspect of understanding new information and being able to apply new information appropriately. Performance incorporates retention, test-taking, and anxiety-reduction strategies.

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Last update: July 15, 2007
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