Simply coined by John Flavell (1979), the term suggests 'thinking beyond thinking' or 'thinking beyond self', however in the literature it is mostly referred to as 'thinking about thinking'. In fact, the term suggests its name, as metacognition is the knowledge of one's own cognitive process. It includes the phases of planning, monitoring, and evaluating one's own practice and performance. Actually, it means consciously controlling one's thinking processes using a wide range of strategies such as organizing and adapting. It also includes a critical awareness of one's own interactions with the people, environment, processes, tasks, assignments, all of which require appropriate strategies that are tuned to the individual's needs and changing conditions.

These strategies can also change the way people think and act, so people, through metacognition, should implement appropriate strategies that match their needs. For that reason, it is considered a fundamental component of effective learning. Metacognition, therefore, involves self-regulation and self-reflection, so it can teach students how to be expressive and self-critical. In this regard, metacognition can teach students how to cope with their weaknesses and also how to tailor their learning objectives and strategies. Through metacognition, learners can figure out how to expand and even extend beyond the boundaries of their knowledge and capacities, so they can have the ability to apply that knowledge and put it into practice by constantly monitoring their learning strategies and adapting them according to changing conditions.

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