How often are thoughts metacognitive? Findings from research on self-regulated learning, think-aloud protocols, and mind-wandering

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dayna R. Touron, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Metacognitive monitoring refers to how people evaluate their cognitive performance. An extensive literature examines how accurately individuals engage in monitoring. The question of how often individuals engage in metacognitive monitoring has been largely neglected, although one might expect situational, group, and individual variability in monitoring frequency. We argue that this is a critical omission, given that the frequency of metacognitive monitoring might have important implications for monitoring accuracy and task performance. Within this review, we highlight findings from three literatures, that each provide insight into how often individuals engage in monitoring. To clarify the important links and potential overlaps between these separate bodies of research, we begin by summarizing the metacognitive monitoring literature, including age-related patterns in monitoring accuracy. We then connect these questions regarding spontaneous monitoring, including age-related patterns in spontaneous monitoring, to targeted reviews of the self-regulated learning, think-aloud protocol, and mind-wandering literatures. We discuss situational and dispositional factors believed to influence monitoring accuracy, and propose that the same factors could potentially influence the frequency of spontaneous monitoring. Additionally, we propose that age-related increases in spontaneous monitoring (as suggested by age-related increases in TRI) may contribute to older adults’ intact monitoring abilities. It is our hope that this review will encourage increased attention and research on the topic of spontaneous monitoring.

Additional Information

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(4), 1269-1286
Language: English
Date: 2018
metacognition, mind wandering, cognitive aging, monitoring

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