thing 19: Metacognition


Whereas the Standards only attended to the cognitive & behavioral dimensions of learning, the Framework takes a more holistic approach by also giving attention to the affective and metacognitive elements of learning. This “thing” is focused on the relationship between metacognition and information literacy and how we can incorporate metacognition into our teaching practice. Instead of offering a reading to get you started thinking about this, we’ve invited some librarians to record a short video sharing their thoughts & experiences about metacognition & teaching:

The videos were recorded using FlipGrid and respond to 2 questions:

  1. Why is metacognition important to information literacy?
  2. How have you incorporated metacognition into your teaching practice?

Watch the videos, which are all under 90 seconds, by clicking this link.  The grid password is: 23Frames  

To see videos with captions, follow the links below:

  1. Question 1 (videos with captions)
  2. Question 2 (videos with captions)


Record your own video (up to 90 seconds):

1. Responding to one of the of the questions above


2. In dialogue with one of the video responses already posted


3. Sharing your ideas/inspiration of how you plan to incorporate metacognition into your teaching practice

We’d love for your responses to be in video format, but if you’re feeling shy, feel free to respond in the comments below.

Questions about how to use FlipGrid? Contact Amy Mars, or check-out FlipGrid’s support site.

Thanks to our metacognition experts for getting us started by sharing their videos!

  • Susan Ariew, Academic Services Librarian for Education & Philosophy at University of South Florida / Tampa Library and co-author of new article, “Revisiting Metacognition and Metaliteracy in the ACRL Framework” published in Communications in Information Literacy.
  • Trudi Jacobson, Head of the Information Literacy Department at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Trudi has published widely on the subject of metacognition including co-authoring the book, Metaliteracy in Practice and the highly cited article, “Reframing Information Literacy as Metaliteracy” in College & Research Libraries.
  • Lindsay Matts-Benson, Instructional Designer at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a member of the curriculum design team for the upcoming ACRL Framework Workshops and has extensive experience incorporating metacognition into curriculum and lesson plans.
  • Amy Riegelman, Social Science Librarian & Kate Peterson, Undergraduate Services Librarian at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities have both presented widely on how they’ve incorporated metacognition into their teaching including through their “Strength Approach to Research.”




  1. It appears that I already use some metacognition in my Information Literacy sessions, if I understand correctly. One example is asking students to consider that the terms they may be using in searching the databases may not be the terms used by the authors in the articles they are seeking. It’s a subtle reminder that they shouldn’t get stuck on a particular word or phrase as they are constructing their search strategies. This helps them to form better search strategies when using databases and even when searching the Internet.

    I also encourage them to look over the article(s), and the references, for alternative keywords and possible changes to their initial query. If they find a resource that appears to be biased, I ask them to consider another resource with the opposite point of view. This will encourage them to carefully evaluate what is being presented to them.

    By creating an annotated bibliography, students will begin to understand the process of not only selecting sources, but articulating WHY the source will be relevant to their research. This forms a solid background in the research process and builds towards a more successful end product.

    I, too, use the CRAAP test in IL instruction, and match each criteria with one of the “6 elements of information gathering” mentioned previously by CLong (who, what, where, when, why, how), and provide an example of each so that students have a better understanding of how to evaluate the resources they have found.

    At the end of the session, students are given a URL to complete a short survey, requesting their feedback and asking if they have additional questions they didn’t want to discuss during the session. I email the instructor with any answers and further clarification. Hopefully, this helps students think even more positively about the research process.


  2. I will also respond in print as a combination of the open floor plan, being on the reference desk, and shyness all conspire to prevent recording a video response at this time. I have incorporated metacognition in my teaching of writing and literature classes, but I have not yet incorporated it in my one-shot information literacy classes. Thing 19 has inspired me to incorporate metacognition in my information literacy classes.

    Kate P. mentioned being more deliberate in planning her classes; I will definitely need to incorporate my own metacognitive practices as I develop metacognitive practices to include in my IL sessions. A number of people mentioned the idea of having students become aware of how they learn, how they think, what they need, and how to rethink and then revise midway through the research process. Susan A. mentioned a research log, and I think at this point in time, I will take aspects from the log and aspects from some of the questions raised by all the speakers to develop brief questions for the students to answer as they develop information literacy skills.


  3. I think metacognition is a key piece of any learning environment; the whole point, most of the time, is to make those bigger connections. As I think I have mentioned elsewhere, for me the bigger “point” of college is to learn how to think, not just to learn specific content. I think information literacy is a major part of that. Being able to think critically about information and your response to information is, for me, one of the biggest “take aways” you can get from college.

    I think active learning and teaching by questioning are key to this. Rather than lecturing at students, ask them questions to get them thinking about an issue and (hopefully) reaching a conclusion on their own. I think this is clearly something we can do in information literacy instruction by asking students to reflect on their own information seeking behavior, as well as thinking more deeply about the information seeking of others.

    Rather than just teaching them that peer reviewed articles are the best, ask them to think about why a sources was created and for what audience? Then, ask them to think about their reaction to the information and where it would be appropriate (or inappropriate) for them to use that information source. These types of questions can get students thinking about not only how other people approach information, but how they do (and should) approach information.


    • I absolutely agree with you that an important part of learning is to link what they’re learning to something bigger. Most of my students are simply taking general education classes in order to gain a nursing degree. Their main focus and motivation revolves around being a nurse. This way of thinking often makes them not see the “bigger picture.” I try to use a little metacognition in my IL sessions by drawing a connection between whatever we are talking about and the nursing field. For example, I ask the students to think about why it is important that we cite sources correctly. As researchers, the students are ethically obligated to give proper credit to outside sources. In nursing, nurses are ethically obligated to administer medication as prescribed or handle some other ethical issue.


  4. I’m on desk duty right now, so creating a response video is not entirely apropos . . . haha!

    I read the Fulkerson/Ariew/Jacobson article, “Revisiting Metacognition and Metaliteracy in the ACRL Framework” article in late February/early March, and I pulled it up to reference it before writing this response.

    From my vantage point as a librarian and my understanding of metacognition and metaliteracy, a human who is information literate arrives at information literacy by utilizing/embracing/exploiting their metacognitive abilities and this age’s metaliteracy.

    I try to practice what I preach in front of my students and other faculty by being very open about my own metacognitive habits, so that they can visualize the process of how I think about my thinking and about my learning and generally about how I process information. By creating a visual model of my own metacognitive behavior for them to see, they can explore metacognitive processes and realize that metacognition is not something to put on and take off like a winter coat. These are habits and attitudes of the mind that we carry with us as we learn and grow. To that end, I ask a lot of open-ended questions during instructions. Open-ended questions lead to unplanned responses, which allow us, as a class, the freedom to explore how we think about our thinking about everything!

    Before we ever get to CRAAP or PROVEN or BEAM, I introduce students to the 6 elements of information gathering: who, what, when, where, why, and how. If they can master these 6 basic questions and learn how to harness their power as it pertains to the information they need for their topics, they have already learned a great deal about themselves, their individual thought processes, and the materials they need for the papers and projects. My goal during library instruction has always been exploration – that we, as a group, would explore the library, its holdings, its possibilities, and discover how we, as unique individuals, can harness the power of the library to work for each of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I will be writing instead of using FlipGrid due to the fact that all our offices are open fishbowls and there is construction everywhere in the library.

    For the past four summers I have co-taught in a summer bridge program. The class is called “Foundations for College Success” with a very small research component. The very essence of the class is about giving rising freshman the opportunity to meet the following Learning Objectives:

    -Students will be able to employ multiple strategies in order to critically read and understand a range of texts.

    -Students will be able to analyze a wide range of texts in order to make thematic connections.

    -Students will be able to demonstrate their abilities in writing, academic research, and oral communication in order to prepare for the Fall Semester.

    This is an updated version of how we used to explain the objectives of the course in the syllabus. For this summer we want to be transparent with the students about what are expectations are for both us and them. We spend 5 weeks getting the students to be intentional about how they interact with different texts in order to read critically and make connections.

    I have not been able to do this explicitly in my information literacy classes, but have attempted to engage students by asking them to think about how they can use what they learn with me in other situations. If I could get them to express this somehow maybe that will be a step towards metacognition. Krista Jacobson, in a prior post, said it better than I had formulated this thought: “I find one of the biggest challenges related to knowledge-seeking is that people often don’t know what they don’t know.” If at the end of a brief library session the students understand the questions they need to be asking and where to ask these questions there is progress. Especially if we are able to get them early in their college years.


  6. I too will respond in print as I find recording leaves me with the inability to speak properly.

    I have incorporated metacognition in my instruction sessions; although I haven’t done it much as of late. I find one of the biggest challenges related to knowledge-seeking is that people often don’t know what they don’t know. This is especially true when it comes to finding information. People often overestimate their ability to find information. At the end of the library sessions, I often ask students to reflect on what they learned during the library session and if there are things they’d like to know more about. I’ve also appreciated when instructors incorporate a task for their students to explain their search process as part of their research assignments. It makes students think about what search terms they chose, why they chose them, where they looked for information, what results they got, the obstacles they came across, the filters they’ve applied, whether or not the results they got were appropriate to answer their research question…etc.

    Metacognition is useful in information literacy because information analysis is as much about understanding why an individual makes the information seeking choices they make which hopefully will lead them to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses in the “answers” they find.


  7. I’m not going to do a video because I am indeed feeling shy. 🙂

    I think metacognition will be something that I can incorporate into my teaching practice. I tend to focus on more of the behavioural aspects, which perhaps comes from having only short information literacy classes during which to make sure students know what to do. However, I’m going to try instead to make sure students understand what to do and why they are doing it—giving them time to “reflect, rethink, and revise” will be valuable for this, even if it only takes the form of a two minute pause for them to jot down their thoughts. Even though it is intimidating to me as an instructor, it could help the research process seem less intimidating to students. If I share how my thought process goes when I am doing research, they could see that I need to stop to consider and problem-solve, and I don’t just immediately know how to do research because I’m a librarian.



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