Paving a clear path in a thick forest: A conceptual analysis of a metacognitive component

Anat Zohar*, Adi Ben David

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The concept of metacognition refers to one's knowledge and control of one's own cognitive system. However, despite being widely used, this concept is confusing because of several reasons. First, sometimes it is not at all clear what is cognitive and what is metacognitive. Second, researchers often use the same term, namely, "metacognition" even when they refer to very different aspects of this complex concept. Alternatively, researchers may use different terms to indicate the same metacognitive elements. Another foggy matter is the interrelationships among the various components of metacognition discussed in the literature. This conceptual confusion regarding the concept of metacognition and its sub-components calls for in-depth theoretical and conceptual clarifications. The goal of this article is to portray a detailed example of a conceptual analysis of meta-strategic knowledge (MSK) which is one specific component of metacognition. This specific example is used to draw a general model for conceptual analyses of additional metacognitive components. The approach suggested here is to begin with a clear definition of the target sub component of metacognition, followed by a systematic examination of this sub component according to several dimensions that are relevant to metacognition in general and to that sub component in particular. The examination should include an analysis of how the details of the definition of the target sub-component refer to: (a) general theoreticalmetacognitive issues raised by prominent scholars; (b) definitions formulated and issues raised by other researchers who have investigated the same (or a similar) subcomponent and, (c) empirical findings pertaining to that sub-component. Finally, it should be noted that since metacognition is a relational rather than a definite concept it is important to situate the context within which the conceptual analysis takes place.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)177-195
Number of pages19
JournalMetacognition and Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation grant # 802/03. A.Zohar(*) . A. Ben David School of Education, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, 91905 e-mail:


  • Conceptual analysis
  • Control of variables
  • Meta strategic knowledge
  • Metacognition


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