Multiple levels of metacognition and their elicitation through complex problem-solving tasks

Young Rae Kim, Mi Sun Park, Tamara J. Moore, Sashank Varma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Building on prior efforts, we re-conceptualize metacognition on multiple levels, looking at the sources that trigger metacognition at the individual level, the social level, and the environmental level. This helps resolve the paradox of metacognition: metacognition is personal, but it cannot be explained exclusively by individualistic conceptions. We develop a theoretical model of metacognition in collaborative problem solving based on models and modeling perspectives. The theoretical model addresses several challenges previously found in the research of metacognition. This paper illustrates how metacognition was elicited, at the environmental level, through problems requiring different problem-solving processes (definition building and operationalizing definitions), and how metacognition operated at both the individual level and the social level during complex problem solving. The re-conceptualization of metacognition has the potential to guide the development of metacognitive activities and effective instructional methods to integrate them into existing curricula that are necessary to engage students in active, higher-order learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-396
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Mathematical Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0717529 . Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


  • Definition building
  • Metacognition
  • Model-eliciting activities
  • Operationalizing definitions


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