Metacognition / Critical Thinking

Metacognition / Critical thinking

We explore cognitive processes, exploring their significance and transformative potential. Our research group is passionate about understanding the multifaceted nature of metacognition and critical thinking. Through empirical studies and collaboration with educators and learners, we aim to generate evidence-based insights and practical recommendations for teachers and students to enhance metacognitive awareness and foster critical thinking skills.

Find out more

Theme Lead/Contact

Dr Rob Wass


Current and Potential Projects

Past/Current Students


Research Outputs


Dr Rob Wass (Theme Lead/Contact)

Dr Rob Wass is a Senior Lecturer in the Higher Education Development Centre at the University of Otago. He currently researches questions related to metacognition, critical thinking and the development of teachers’ pedagogical beliefs. Rob believes that metacognition is an important area of research as metacognition plays a pivotal role in fostering student achievement in higher education. By encouraging students to become aware of their learning strategies, strengths, and areas for improvement, metacognition empowers them to become self-directed learners. This heightened self-awareness enables students to set realistic goals, make informed decisions, and adapt their study techniques accordingly. Moreover, metacognitive skills promote deep understanding, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, enhancing overall academic performance. 

Dr Tracy Rogers

I am drawn to metacognition because students’ ability to develop their metacognitive regulation and awareness is independent of their general intelligence.  Moreover, students can be taught metacognitive skills, and once they have developed effective planning, monitoring, and evaluating skills, they are likely to perform better academically.  I am hoping to find the most effective way of teaching students metacognition through our peer learning programmes, specifically through embedding metacognitive skills into PASS.

Metacognition is seldom taught in higher education, and many students lack metacognitive awareness and skills. Therefore, I would like to see staff provided with professional development on how to embed metacognition into their teaching.

Dr Nave Wald

Critical thinking is foundational to higher education but remains conceptually and pedagogically challenging. It has cognitive as well as cultural and political aspects.

My research has focused on the assessment of critical thinking, and on the ways in which higher education researchers provide justifications and rationales for their scholarship.

Critical thinking must remain a key focus of higher education. Students need to be taught how to think critically in their discipline, and develop their attitude towards and practice of thinking critically in all their edeavours.


Past Collabs

Wass, R., Rogers, T., Kim Brown, Smith-Han, K., Tagg, J., Berg, D., & Gallagher, S. (2023). Pedagogical training for developing students’ metacognition: implications for educators. International Journal for Academic Development (accepted)

Current Projects
Future projets
Contact Rob

Past/Current Student Researchers

Past Students
Current Students
Future students
Contact Rob

Research Outputs

Wass, R., Rogers, T., Brown, K., Smith-Han, K., Tagg, J., Berg, D., & Gallagher, S. (2023). Pedagogical training for developing students’ metacognition: implications for educators. International Journal for Academic Development, pp. 1-14. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2023.2246442 

Smith-Han, K., Gallagher, S., Brown, K., Wass, R., Rogers, T., & Tagg, J. (2020). Professional development of educators in metacognition: A real ‘eye-opener’. Proceedings of the Australian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (ANZAHPE) Conference. (pp. 240). Retrieved from

Wass, R., Harland, T., & Mercer, A. (2011). Scaffolding critical thinking in the zone of proximal development. Higher Education Research & Development30(3), 317-328. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2010.489237

Wass, R., & Golding, C. (2014). Sharpening a tool for teaching: the zone of proximal development. Teaching In Higher Education, 19(6), pp. 671-684. doi:10.1080/13562517.2014.901958 

Are you interested in the field of metacognition and critical thinking?