Metacognition is a critically important, yet often overlooked component of learning. Effective learning involves planning and goal-setting, monitoring one's progress, and adapting as needed. All of these activities are metacognitive in nature. By teaching students these skills - all of which can be learned - we can improve student learning. There are three critical steps to teaching metacognition, teaching students that their ability to learn is mutable, teaching planning and goal-setting and giving students ample opportunities to practice monitoring their learning and adapting as necessary
"Metacognitive skills and beliefs about learning have consequences for students' learning and performance  .
Expert learners consider their learning goals, plan accordingly, and monitor their own learning as they carry out their plans. Novice learners, in contrast, don't have explicit learning goals, fail to plan, and often have only one learning strategy, which they apply without thinking about whether it's appropriate to the situation. Not surprisingly, novice learners are often disappointed in the results of their studying, while expert learners are generally satisfied with their results (and will make adjustments if not).
Expert learners engage in what we call Self-Regulated Learning. A Self-Regulated Learner begins with goal-setting and planning, taking into account his or her time constraints, strengths and weaknesses relevant to the learning task, and motivation for learning. Having set reasonable goals and planned his or her learning strategies, the Self-Regulated Learner then implements his or her plan, monitoring the results as he or she studies. If the chosen strategies are working well, he or she continues; if not, he or she makes adjustments and monitors the results until they are in line with his or her learning goals.
Although early attempts to teach students metacognitive skills were unsuccessful, more recent studies demonstrate that metacognition can be taught and learned.
"Teaching metacognition - introducing these new skills and beliefs, and giving students practice at applying them - improves students'  learning.
The key to a student's ability to become a self-regulated (i.e., metacognitive) learner is understanding that one's ability to learn is a skill that develops over time rather than a fixed trait, inherited at birth. Students who believe that the ability to learn can improve over time earn higher grades, even after controlling for prior achievement (Henderson and Dweck, 1990)  . These students set reasonable learning goals for themselves and have the self-efficiency to choose and use productive learning strategies. These strategies then result in learning gains. Moreover, students can be taught that their ability to learn can improve over time; those who learn this simple lesson show increased motivation to learn and improved grades (Aronson et al., 2002; Blackwell et al., 2007)  .
Many students don't set explicit learning goals for themselves, or make plans to meet any goals they might have. Yet students who received as little as half an hour of training (in the form of one-to-one tutoring) on the process of self-regulated learning outperformed students who did not receive the training in several important ways. First and foremost, they learned more. In addition, they planned how they would spend their time in the learning task, spent more of their time in goal-oriented searching, and periodically reminded themselves of their current goal (Azevedo and Cromley, 2004)  .
Monitoring and adapting strategies can be taught as learning habits. A wrapper is one tool for teaching self-monitoring behaviour. A wrapper is an activity that surrounds an existing assignment or activity and encourages metacognition. For example, wrappers can be used with lectures, homework assignments, or exams. Wrappers require just a few extra minutes of time, but can have a big impact. They are effective because they integrate metacognitive behaviour where it is needed - when the student is in a learning situation where self-monitoring can be helpful. Students can also get immediate feedback on the accuracy of their perceptions, thus alleviating the problem of over-confidence. Finally, wrappers require minimal faculty time.
Prior to beginning the lecture, the teacher can give students some tips on active listening. In particular, students will be encouraged to think about the key points of the lesson as they listen and take notes. At the end of the lecture, students write what they think the three most important ideas of the lecture were. The teacher can then reveals the three most important ideas from the lesson. This immediate feedback allows students to monitor their active listening strategies.
"Low-cost interventions can have big payoffs  ."
When graded exams are returned (as soon as possible after the exam was given), students can complete an exam reflection sheet. They describe their study strategies, analyse the mistakes they made, and plan their study strategies for the next exam. These reflection sheets are returned to students before the next exam, so that they can make use of the ideas they had when the previous exam was still fresh in their minds. Students identified several new approaches they would use in future exam preparation.
Exploring the relative influences of nature and nurture on human motor development is an important topic (Barrett & Bailey; Thomas & French, )  . In terms of environmental influences, Yan and Thomas (1995) identified several culture-related characteristics in youth's physical activity patterns as well as cultural influences on gender differences in physical activity. Specifically, boys were more favorable to competitive sports while their girls counterparts were more likely to get involved in fitness related physical activities. In addition, parental influences on children's selection of physical activities were also recognised. Some parents from low socio-economic backgrounds expect their children to participate in health or fitness-related activities whereas other parent parents from a higher socio-economic support or encourage children's participation in team or individual sports. Thus, social-cultural factors seem to affect children's patterns of physical activities.
However, questions remain relative to how and why children or adolescents in two different cultures (Western and Oriental) choose different types of physical activities. To facilitate the understanding of such questions and further promote an active lifestyle for children in a multicultural society like the United States, developmentally assessing psychological factors such as participatory motivation in sports or physical activities important (Duda, 1987; Morgan, Griffin, & Heyward, 1996)  . However, few studies have examined cross-cultural differences in psychological factors related to physical activity despite the plea for systematic investigations provided over a decade ago by Duda and Allison (1990)  .
Understanding youth motives to participate in sports or physical activities has been a subject of interest for many researchers; numerous studies have examined the question of whether there are differences in youth motives across sports, age, gender, and culture and suggest that children or adolescents are subject to the environmental influences in their motivation to participate in certain physical activities.
"Cross-cultural" comparison is one of the most common research paradigms for studying environmental influences on human development cognitive, social, and motor development. For instance, Chiu examined the differences in cognitive styles between Oriental and Western children and found that Oriental children are more likely to engage in individual problem solving while Western children participate in team or group exploration. These studies identify a number of contributing factors including cultural expectations, social-economic background, parental/siblings influences, or peer's impacts that may have profound impact on the observed behavioral differences in cognitive, social, or motor domains of human development.
We could identify limited research on participation motives of individuals from Eastern societies compared to those in Western cultures. Hayashi and Weiss (1994) compared western and Oriental runners on reasons for participation. Both groups of runners agreed that personal challenge, health and fitness, and achievement are important motives. However, only the oriental runners suggested positive experience and group membership as important and only the western runners chose competition and recognition as important motives.
Piaget called thinking about thinking 'reflective abstraction', and said that this develops in children through their growing awareness of different viewpoints and the experience of self-conflict when their understanding is challenged. The years from 4 to 9 see significant developments in children in their growing awareness of themselves as thinkers and learners. An illustration of this is provided by Istomina (1982)  in studying the ways children of different ages set about a shopping task using a class shop. The 4 year olds ran impulsively back and forth 'buying' things on their oral list, the 5 and 6 year olds tried to memorize what they had been told by asking for it to be repeated, the 7 year olds tried to make some logical connections between items on their lists.
Metacognitive development in individual children varies widely. Poor learners show marked delays in metacognitive development (Campione 1987, Watson 1996)  . They have the metacognitive awareness of much younger children, they tend to over-estimate the capacity of their memory, they fail to try different approaches, fail to see that similar problems can be solved by similar means (Sternberg 1985). Pupils with learning difficulties fail not only because they have less knowledge about tasks, but also because they fail to utilise the knowledge and skills they have, they tend not to plan, have no strategy in attempting tasks and do not monitor their progress. What these studies point to is that these pupils need is not only the most explicit teaching but also metacognitive help to improve their self regualtion and monitoring of learning.
If there is one characteristic of very able or gifted children it is that they have more metacognitive awareness than less able peers (Sternberg 1983)  . They have a clearer grasp of what they know and what they do not know, they know what they can do and what they cannot do, and they know what will help them gain the knowledge or understanding they need. One researcher found that very able children could 'describe in detail how they managed their mental learning resources and what they did to improve their learning strategies. (They) ... also knew about the importance of involving the whole self - intellect, emotion, and body - in their learning' (Freeman 1991). Metacognitive skill in able pupils does not necessarily show itself in evidence of 'quick thinking', but in their ability to use quick or slow thinking when the occasion demands. Creativity is not related to quickness of thinking. Indeed evidence suggests that children with high IQs tend to be slower not faster than those with lower IQs in creative problem solving, but show more insight and success (Davison, Deuser & Sternberg 1996)  .
Children vary in their ability to solve problems and to learn from experience. These individual differences are related to differences of intelligence, differences in experience (including the experience of being taught) and to differences in the use of metacognitive processes. Four metacognitive processes seem to be especially important in solving problems. These are, recognising the problem, identifying and defining the elements of a given situation, representing the problem, making a mental map of the problem, comparing it with others, planning how to proceed, deciding steps, resources and setting targets and evaluating progress and solutions, knowing about what you know.
Many problems can be solved by cognitive methods alone, for example number problems or editing a text for correct punctuation, which require the application of set rules. Many of the steps however those children make in solving a problem are not simply about applying rules. Problem solvers need to direct and guide their problem solving, know how to define the problem and select appropriate strategy or rule. Also many problems in learning and in life are ill-structured, complex and made 'messy' by containing many kinds of variables. Many problems have no simple solution. What do you do when you don't know what to do? What is needed is not only the application of knowledge but also the application of metacognitive skills, and evidence shows that these develop with age and through practice (Metcalfe & Shimamura 1996)  .
Metacognition helps children make the most of their mental resources. We might use the metaphor of the machine and the workshop manual. Our mental machines are very similar, what makes variation is the way that the operating instructions differ from person to person. Some of us have clearer mental representations of the way our minds work on problems than others, some have more effective metacognitive mechanisms of operation and control . One way to explore this is in children (and in adults) is to encourage self reflection. But how would you represent the workings of your own mind? Research into ways children represent, using drawing and metaphor, the workings of their minds show that their ability develops through the process of maturation but that this process can be accelerated through the mediated experience of self-reflection (Fisher 1990, 1995  ).
Metacognitive awareness includes knowledge of ourselves (how we usually do or do not perform in such a situation), and knowledge about the strategies we use to tackle tasks (how we do things). We might sum this up by saying that the metacognitive includes cognitive elements, but cognitive activity does not necessarily include the metacognitive. Another way of representing this is on a continuum of awareness. Below is a guide to levels of awareness in thinking that are increasingly metacognitive.
Tacit use : children make decisions without really thinking about them
Aware use: children become consciously aware of a strategy or decision-making process
Strategic use: children organise their thinking by selecting strategies for decision-making
Reflective use: children reflect on thinking, before, during and after the process, pondering on progress and how to improve
If metacognition is an essential ingredient in intelligent behaviour, the challenge for teachers is in finding ways to aid and accelerate the child's naturally developing awareness of self.