Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effects of Meta-Cognitive Instruction on Students' Reading Comprehension in Computerized Reading Contexts: A Quantitative Meta-Analysis

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effects of Meta-Cognitive Instruction on Students' Reading Comprehension in Computerized Reading Contexts: A Quantitative Meta-Analysis

Article excerpt


A universal agreement among educators is that the ultimate goal of reading is to comprehend text. As the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000) directly pointed out, "Reading comprehension has come to be the essence of reading" (p. 4-1). Without comprehension, reading is reduced to a mechanistic and meaningless skill (Oberholzer, 2005, p. 22).

The acquisition of reading comprehension skills is critical for every student to gain important information from written texts. However, comprehension is a complex skill; in addition, the skills needed to comprehend texts vary by text form, genre, reader capacity, readers' prior knowledge, and reading goals (The RAND Reading Study Group, 2002). Thus, acquiring and applying reading strategies is thus in turn critical for students.

Comprehension is facilitated when readers use strategies (Rupley et al., 2009). While some findings have shown that good readers might adopt several effective reading comprehension strategies when reading text or during reading tasks, researchers such as Yuill and Joscelyne (1988) argued that less skilled readers especially benefit from instruction. Thus, it is assumed that learning outcomes in reading are related to the quality of the instruction students receive. Various examples of effective reading instruction and their characteristics, challenges, nature, and other significant features have been mentioned and documented. For example, Rupley et al. (2009) found that new material could be bridged with prior knowledge through an explicitly-instructed, detailed process which includes guided practice.

Among these efforts, metacognition has been identified as a significant factor for text comprehension (e.g., Williams & Atkins, 2009). As Harris's (1990) groundbreaking conclusion suggested, metacognitive abilities seem to be a differentiating factor between good and poor readers. Therefore, Harris (1990) argued, "there would appear to be some value in teaching students to apply metacognitive strategies" (p. 34). In line with this advocacy, many researchers have been devoted to examining the role of metacognitive strategy instruction in reading comprehension (e.g., Cubukcu, 2008; Dabarera, Renandya, & Zhang, 2014). Yet, only a few particularly aimed at examining how metacognitive strategies helped students comprehend digital texts.

In a world in which electronic reading is becoming increasingly common, the reading platform today has shifted from traditional text to hypertext. Prensky (2001) termed students today as "digital natives." In his words, they are those who have grown up in a world where technology is ubiquitous. Their libraries are on their laptops and other handheld electronic devices; they typically read electronic books rather than printed books. According to Puntambekar and Stylianou (2005), this kind of text is nonlinear and flexible, thus requiring learners to engage in cognitive monitoring. When reading such texts, they need to "plan what to read next, and closely monitor ongoing learning" (Puntambekar & Stylianou, 2005, p. 454). In other words, these digital natives "process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors" (Prensky, 2001, p. 1). It then becomes clear that the argument "the same methods that worked for the teachers when they were students will work for their students now" is no longer valid (Prensky, 2001, p. 3).

Nevertheless, Srivastava and Gray (2012) pointed out that little consideration has been given to how the aforementioned shift would help or hinder students' reading comprehension. Therefore, there is an urgent need to conduct such a study to offer in-service teachers who work with their "digital native" students some practical ways of implementing the most appropriate reading comprehension strategies. This article addresses this necessity by presenting findings from a meta-analysis of published refereed quantitative studies that examine the effects of metacognitive strategy instruction on students' reading comprehension in computerized reading contexts. …

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