‘metacognition’, or the set of skills indicated as critical thinking in the domain of business education, constitutes an important aim in many educational programmes. At the same time, empirical studies demonstrate that teaching metacognitive skills is much harder than teaching cognitive ones. Moreover, the assessment of metacognitive skills poses unique problems. This study focuses on the assessment of metacognition (critical thinking) by means of a recently developed self-report instrument, the ‘awareness of independent learning inventory’, or aili. Participants are undergraduate students in a business and economics programme. The study investigates the structure of metacognition, its relationship with background factors and its influence on course performance.