Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Metacognitive Reading Strategies Can Improve Self-Regulation

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Metacognitive Reading Strategies Can Improve Self-Regulation

Article excerpt

While the number of freshmen entering college requiring developmental reading courses remains high (see NCES report, 2003), there is little research to guide the design and content of such courses so that they are beneficial to students (Grubb, 2001; Paulson, Laine, Biggs, & Bullock, 2003). Reading instructors are left to wonder what really works for their students who test into developmental reading courses. Moreover, few researchers have investigated the connection between findings in the plethora of recent reading comprehension studies conducted with elementary school students and potential implications for students in college-level developmental reading courses. Could reading strategies that seem to assist younger students also improve college students' reading behaviors? Could such strategies enable college students to become self-regulating readers, that is, readers who monitor and control their reading processes to comprehend texts?

In this qualitative case study, in which the researcher and observer was also the course instructor, findings from past reading research conducted with elementary-aged children were applied to a developmental reading course at the college level. The goal was to guide students to transform their reading behaviors and become self-regulating readers. Tvo studies on metacognition conducted with younger children were particularly helpful in deciding how to proceed in the college-level course.

Metacognition: Revisiting TWo Landmark Studies

In two landmark studies (Paris, Cross, & Lipson, 1984; Pressely et al., 1992), metacognitive reading strategies were taught to elementary students using a scaffolded approach. Tfeachers in both studies explicitly taught students specific reading strategies, paying close attention to three critical elements of metacognition: the declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge of each strategy (Jacobs & Paris, 1987). Declarative knowledge is defined as propositional information one possesses about a certain task, such as knowing "that" utilizing prereading strategies prior to reading a text will greatly aid in comprehension. Procedural knowledge is one's thinking processes. An example would be knowing "how" to implement prereading strategies prior to reading a text. Finally, conditional knowledge is defined as awareness of factors affecting learning. Knowing "why" or in what circumstances prereading strategies increase comprehension of a text would be considered conditional knowledge. Understanding not only what the strategies are but also how, when, where, and why they are used allows students to form a conceptual foundation of successful reading (Borkowski & Muthunkrishna, 1992; Jacobs & Paris, 1987).

Paris et al. (1984) embedded an additional element of metacognition into their experimental instructional design, an aspect they called self-management of thinking (Jacobs & Paris, 1987). This aspect of metacognition allows students to actively assess the variables involved in a certain task by planning, evaluating, and regulating their own comprehension in strategic ways. According to Jacobs and Paris, planning occurs when a reader determines which cognitive strategy would be most appropriate to use to reach a particular cognitive goal. An example of strategic planning would be deciding whether using context clues would be sufficient in defining the meaning of an unknown word or if locating the word in the dictionary is necessary. Evaluation involves an assessment of the task, its difficulty relative to the reader's ability, and the effectiveness of a chosen strategy for the task (Paris et al., 1992). Through regulating, readers monitor their progress and revise their strategic planning, depending on the outcome of their evaluation. For instance, after concluding that context clues have yielded an insufficient understanding of an unknown word, the reader then decides that locating the word in a dictionary would be an effective strategy to use to better understand the meaning of the word. …

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