Metacognition is the ability to think about how you think. This is an important educational concept, because it helps students to refine the way they learn in class. Being aware of their own thoughts improves the way they take notes and how they study outside the classroom. As video games grow more popular in early 21st-century culture, a topic that has arisen within the education community is how games can affect metacognition in students.


Metacognition is split into several components making it easily measured. One important aspect of metacognition is self-assessment, the ability for a student to understand why he was good or bad at a particular task. Secondly, a student should be able to respond to feedback and engage in conversation about his abilities. Finally, a student must be able to plan strategies for how to effectively complete a task.

Role of Gaming in Metacognition

A student must use metacognition when playing both video games and more traditional games -- board games, for example. This manifests in his strategy. The student must plan a strategy and see it through, evaluating which elements of her plan worked and which did not when the game is over. After the game is over she must be able to articulate her results.

Scientific Studies on Gaming and Metacognition

Kyoto University in Japan completed a study in 2009 of how gaming affects students' metacognition and learning. They divided the process of metacognition into the three categories of modeling: creating a strategy based on past results; recording and writing a report on how well different strategies work; and thinking aloud, the ability to hold a conversation about their results. The study showed that the more social aspects of metacognition improved the most with gaming, the thinking aloud in particular. The self-recording element did not improve when students played more games however. Researchers believed that those activities with most feedback were the ones that improved most.

Games to Improve Metacognition

The researchers examined a variety of games before settling on a Korean multiplayer online game. This game was not in anyway developed to be educational and was only created for entertainment, which after some deliberation was why the researchers chose it. They believed that educational games were not entertaining enough for students, and students would put more effort into an entertainment-focused game. They recommended that educators use entertaining games and focus on educational elements rather than trying to force students to enjoy educational games.