Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Self-Efficacy, Metacognition, and Performance

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Self-Efficacy, Metacognition, and Performance

Article excerpt

This study examined the relationships among self-efficacy, metacognition, and performance. Regression analysis showed that the relationship between self-efficacy and performance was not mediated by metacognition. However, another analysis showed that the relationship between metacognition and performance was fully mediated by self-efficacy. This suggests that students with effective metacognitive strategies also have strong belief in their capabilities to successfully perform a task. These findings lend support to training programs for students that enhance self-efficacy and strengthen their metacognitive strategies and skills.


A popular area of investigation for education researchers tends to be the relationship between learning variables such as goals, self-efficacy, metacognition, learning styles and techniques, and test anxiety, as these variables influence learning and performance. However, individual researchers typically focus on children in elementary or middle school and not on college students or adults. This leaves a gap in our understanding of how such variables change and operate as students grow older. Additionally, variables such as self-efficacy and metacognition tend to improve with age and so the relationship between these variables with learning and performance is difficult to ascertain with school children (e.g., Bisanz, Vesonder, & Voss, 1978; Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999). The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between self-efficacy and metacognition among college students and understand how these variables relate to performance as measured by GPA. The importance in understanding these relationships lies in research showing that metacognitive skills can be taught to students to improve their learning (e.g., Nietfeld & Schraw, 2002; Thiede, Anderson, & Therriault, 2003). This article will first elaborate on metacognition and self-efficacy, followed by details on research methodology, and will conclude with results and discussion.


Flavell (1979) was one of the early researchers to recognize metacognition as thinking about your thinking or "knowledge and cognition about cognitive phenomena" (p. 906). Metacognition refers to higher-order mental processes involved in learning such as creating learning plans, using appropriate skills and strategies to solve a problem, making estimates of performance, and calibrating the extent of learning (Dunslosky & Thiede, 1998). Researchers distinguish between metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation (Schraw & Dennison, 1994). Metacognitive knowledge is comprised of declarative knowledge (knowing which learning strategies work and which ones do not work), procedural knowledge (knowing how to use learning strategies), and conditional knowledge (knowing when and why to use strategies). Metacognitive regulation refers to activities that control one's learning, such as planning, information management strategies, comprehension monitoring, debugging strategies, and evaluation of progress and goals.

One line of metacognition research has shown that metacognition is an important predictor of academic performance; students able to effectively distinguish information they know and do not know are more likely to review and retain new information (Dunning, Johnson, Ehrlinger, & Kruger, 2003; Dunslosky & Thiede, 1998; Kruger & Dunning, 1999). Metacognition has been described as a discrepancy-reduction strategy where the learner begins study by setting a specific desired state of learning for the material (Dunslosky & Thiede; Thiede, Anderson, & Therriault, 2003). The student allocates resources to learn new information and monitors the degree to which new material has been learned. Learning is discontinued when the student believes that he or she has mastered the information and achieved the desired state of learning.

A second line of metacognitive research has shown that metacognitive training, even if administered for a short time, can improve performance considerably (e. …

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