The emphasis so far has been on what the teacher can do for the learner. Learners, however, are not usually helpless, they can generally monitor and control their conscious thinking. (Redding, 1990). If they fail to understand they may, for instance, persist or try a new approach. In short, they may initiate actions themselves which help them understand (Flavell, 1979). They regulate, control and sustain learning so that their learning goals may be achieved (Zimmerman, 1989; Schunk, 1994). This do-it-yourself process depends on metacognition. Metacognition is a term often

used to describe people’s knowledge and control of their cognitive activity (Brown, 1987; Cheng, 1993; Nelson, 1999). It covers a variety of mental activities and Flavell (1987) has described some of them. He lists metacognitive knowledge relating to people (for example, someone’s beliefs about his or her ability to cope with verbal material, the relative capabilities of people, and the reliability of memory), metacognitive knowledge relating to the task (for example, knowing that very non-redundant text can take time and mental effort to grasp), and metacognitive knowledge relating to strategies (for example, planning or re-reading after comprehension failure). He also described metacognitive experiences such as puzzlement when trying to understand and satisfaction at success. Some of this mental activity, however, may not be open to conscious reflection (Flavell, 1987). Jacobs and Paris (1987) prefer to focus on what is conscious and deliberate. They

define metacognition as that part of your knowledge about your thoughts and your thinking which you can talk about with others. It has two main components: the self-appraisal of cognition and the self-management of thinking. The first relates to declarative, procedural and conditional knowledge. Declarative knowledge, as the term suggests, is that which can be stated. Knowing that re-reading facilitates learning is an example. Knowing how to skim-read or summarize text is an instance of procedural knowledge. Conditional knowledge is contained in the tying together of a situation

and an action such as knowing that if someone needs to learn the relationships between areas of knowledge then a mind-mapping activity on paper can be helpful. The selfmanagement of thinking refers to mental activities such as planning, evaluating, regulating, monitoring and also the revision of a plan or strategy. Self-regulation is a mental process which draws on metacognitive knowledge and strat-

egies to achieve its end (Pintrich, 1999). For instance, students’ conceptions of learning can be seen as a part of their metacognitive knowledge; if they see learning as the acquisition of as much information as possible, they are likely to be concerned with how much they have acquired rather than its quality. With that goal in mind, they select a way of learning, appraise progress and take some action if the quantity learned seems insufficient. Metacognitive experience, such as feelings of satisfaction, may also serve to indicate that the goal has been achieved, at least in the way it was conceived by the learner.