Janet Metcalfe

Professor of Psychology
Columbia University

Janet Metcalfe is Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and Principal Investigator at the Metacognition and Memory Lab. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.

Her current research at the lab centers on how people know what they know, that is, their metacognitive abilities, and whether they use this evolutionarily unique ability efficaciously--for effective self-control. She has been studying people's abilities to make judgments of their own learning, focusing on a theoretical perspective that proposes that they are able to hone in on their own Region of Proximal Learning--items on which further study yield maximum learning payoffs. Recent theoretical efforts have been directed at clearly specifying the heuristics underlying how people isolate this region. Thus, she investigates what it is that people choose to study. However, it is also necessary to investigate whether what they choose to study is advantageous or not. Of course, the limitations in human metacognitive judgments figure large in this research program.

She also applies these studies of what people know about what they know and how they use this knowledge to affect their study (including whether they are able to appropriately choose and also to sustain their own attentional resources in a manner that maximizes their learning) to educational ends. Part of our research is directed at enhancing the study skills of at-risk middle school children. We conduct a cognitively and metacognitively guided study enhancement program in an at-risk school in the Bronx. 

She continues to be involved in research investigating the consequences of stress on self-regulation and on memory: the Hot/Cool Framework of memory, self control, and emotion.