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Monitoring and control during learning and problem solving

WorkgroupMultiple Representations Lab
FundingIWM budget resources, EARLI Emerging Field Group “Unifying Cognitive Load and Self-Regulated Learning Research: Monitoring and Regulation of Effort (MRE)”
Project description

In this project, metacognitive processes in learning and problem solving are investigated. Learners need to constantly regulate their learning process, i.e., they need to monitor and control the cognitive resources they use to accomplish the (learning) task. The adequate regulation of cognitive resources plays a central role in learning, which is why the results from this project are relevant, for instance, in school or university contexts.

In learning, not only cognitive processes are executed, learners also have to implicitly or explicitly assess their learning success and progress, reflect on their cognitive resources and regulate them. Based on such subjective appraisals, they then decide, for example, when to invest effort and when to cease their efforts. It may be that they invest a lot of effort because the task is challenging but has high relevance for the learner. But it may also be that they invest little effort because the task seems easy or because it is impossible to solve and they give up immediately.

In learning research, appraisals of effort and task performance are often used to gain insight into the learning or problem-solving process. However, there is evidence that such subjective appraisals are subject to biases. To identify and explain these biases, this project investigates which person, instructional, or material characteristics influence how well individuals monitor and regulate learning and problem-solving processes. Specifically, the relationship between task difficulty and subjectively reported as well as objectively measurable effort will be investigated (measured, for example, by changes in pupil dilation in response to changes in task difficulty). Furthermore, it will be investigated to what extent these objective measures of effort serve learners as cues for subjective appraisals of their learning process.

  • Prof. Dr. Rakefet Ackerman, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel

  • Prof. Dr. Vincent Hoogerheide, Utrecht University, Netherlands

  • Prof. Dr. Katharina Scheiter, University of Potsdam
  • Dr. Yael Sidi, The Open University of Israel
  • EARLI Emerging Field Group “Unifying Cognitive Load and Self-Regulated Learning Research: Monitoring and Regulation of Effort (MRE)”


Hoch, E., Sidi, Y., Ackerman, R., Hoogerheide, V., & Scheiter, K. (2023). Comparing mental effort, difficulty, and confidence appraisals in problem-solving: a metacognitive perspective. Educational Psychology Review, 35(2), Article 61. [Data] Open Access

Scheiter, K., Ackerman, R., & Hoogerheide, V. (2020). Looking at Mental Effort Appraisals through a Metacognitive Lens: Are they Biased? Educational Psychology Review, 32(4), 1003-1027. Open Access


Dr. Emely Hoch Dr. Emely Hoch
Tel.: +49 7071 979-353