In the Conversation today ( 30th November 2015) there is an article entitled ‘Students don’t know what’s best for them’. — https://theconversation.com/students-dont-know-whats-best-for-their-own-learning-33835. It argues that students often rate teachers best who make it easier for them, and that students don’t understand when they are learning and when they are not. So they think they have learned if the task they are doing is easy.
I am not entirely certain that a thoughtful student can’t go beyond this, but I think another thing the article suggests is very important. That is that the amount of learning being done is very often significantly connected to the amount of effort being put in. More importantly, other educational evidence suggests that students continue to try hard and cheat and plagiarise less when they are praised for effort rather than achievement.
So for teaching purposes this suggests that finding ways to motivate students to try hard may at the very least make them learn better. Whether they recognise that they have done so may be another matter.!