Almost everything students do in school is a problem. For at least 12 years of their lives, children demonstrate their skills and knowledge by answering numerous questions and performing a wide range of problem-solving activi­ ties. Consider the following examples given to us by teachers:

Obviously, these problems differ in the skills, mental processes, and domain-specific knowledge required to solve them. For example, the first three problems have only one correct answer, whereas the last two have several solutions. The first one requires mathematical knowledge and the third requires observational skills; either scientific or engineering knowledge can be applied to the fourth problem. However, these problems have two related commonalties. First, solving each one requires thinking that is directed toward achieving a goal. Second, solving each problem requires metacognition, which is awareness and management of one’s mental proc­ esses, to guide this goal-directed thinking. The difference between being a good or a poor problem solver often lies in the ability to think about one’s problem-solving activities (Gardner, 1991).