Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Use of Metacognitive Knowledge in Essay Writing among High School Students

Academic journal article International Education Studies

The Use of Metacognitive Knowledge in Essay Writing among High School Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper report part of a bigger project aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of metacognitive strategies on students' performance in essay writing. The aspects of metacognitive strategies considered in this study include the use of declarative knowledge, conditional knowledge, and procedural knowledge. The focus of this paper is on the use of metacognitive strategies during the writing activity. Before the intervention process, the participants were given a task to write an essay and after that they were asked to do metacognitive reflection. Data were analyzed using content analysis procedure. The respondents consisted of 18 secondary school students from poor urban community. The data revealed that ten participants did not use declarative knowledge namely: i) did not make the outline of the essay before writing, ii) did not identify keywords that represent the requirement of the question, and iii) how to expand ideas. These results indicate that students did not possess enough declarative knowledge about writing. The study also found that 11 respondents did not use declarative knowledge in the attempt to expand ideas. In terms of conditional knowledge, nine of the respondents still could not identify when and why certain strategies should be used. Whereas in terms of procedural knowledge, the study showed that all the participants did not show the use of important steps needed in writing a good essay. In conclusion, this study provides evidence on the need of an intervention or teaching modules to help improve students writing skills.

Keywords: metacognitive reflection, declarative knowledge, conditional knowledge, procedural knowledge

1. Introduction

Studies in learning process have found that students are more able to learn complex skills when they can think "metacognitively," that is, when they think about their own thinking and performance so they can consciously monitor and change it. Baradaran and Sarfarazi (2011) stated that the use of the principles of teaching based on cognitive and metacognitive as scaffolding through contextualize, modeling, discussion, contingency, and construction in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) can solve the problems in teaching writing skills in English as a Foreign Language at the Islamic Azad University of Mashhad. The result shows that the scaffolding technique can improve students' performance in writing through generating ideas, structuring essays, drafting, writing and editing. Tufekci and Sapar (2011) also noted that a constructive method also improves the ability of students to produce creative writing among students as well as helps to improve their communication skills, knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and increase awareness of the relationship of culture and language. This method also enhances students' motivation to learn a foreign language. Therefore, the approach based on cognitive and metacognitive strategies are able to produce students who can generate ideas in a critical and analytical writing skill.

Literature shows that there are weaknesses in students' writing skills. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP; Salahu-Din, Persky, & Miller, 2008), only 33% of eighth-grade and 24% of 12th-grade students perform at or above the proficient level in writing (defined as solid academic performance). Student who score below this level are classified as obtaining only partial mastery of the literacy skill needed at their respective grade. If partial mastery is interpreted as performing below grade level, then 67% of eight-grade and 76% of 12 th-grade students can be considered as writing below grade level. Malaysian Examination Board Report (2010) also revealed that the number of students with moderately in essay writing is more than a high performance (excellent) and low. Many weaknesses that need to be improved to achieve the level of mastery of the writing at the level of honors and awards. Khir and Marzukhi (2009) reported that most students cannot write a good, accurate, and meets the requirements of the questions in a timely manner. …

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