The extent to which adolescents succeed in controlling their cognitive processes themselves is an important factor for better performance in secondary education. Some students in secondary education require almost no guidance in their learning process. However, most do need guidance in their learning process and often even quite strong guidance. There is also a group of adolescents who sometimes do and sometimes do not need external guidance. For example, because once they are familiar with certain learning material, they can easily make connections between prior knowledge and new information. For students who need strong guidance, the teacher must direct the cognitive processing processes. He cannot copy them, but he must apply didactic techniques that activate the processes and guide them in the right direction. For example, by consciously activating prior knowledge and explicitly teaching the connections between that prior knowledge and new information. Students with higher cognitive ability can be instructed to look for those connections themselves. However, not before the teacher is sure that they are familiar with the subject matter, have sufficient relevant prior knowledge and can use the correct processing processes.

In secondary education it is not responsible to assume that students can select and carry out the correct cognitive processes of their own accord. An additional problem is that adolescents are less able than adults to properly assess their own capabilities. They often overestimate their capabilities and underestimate the problems they have to overcome. This makes it difficult for a teacher to assess the degree of self-direction. Properly coordinating the teacher's guidance and the student's own guidance is a complex matter. Teachers can help students in various ways to activate their cognitive processes and use them efficiently. Through interactive teaching-learning conversations, targeted questions and assignments and explicit learning instructions, teachers activate the processing processes. They can demonstrate the use by thinking out loud and showing how they analyze difficult learning material, how they look for connections, structure, etc. It is then very important to monitor the use of the processing processes by testing and educational-learning conversations to determine how students have tackled the task. Feedback must then be given in group conversations or in one-on-one conversations.