Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Perceived Learning Environments and Metacognitive Strategy Knowledge at the Upper Secondary School Level

Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Perceived Learning Environments and Metacognitive Strategy Knowledge at the Upper Secondary School Level

Article excerpt

1. Important role of metacognition in school

Metacognition plays an important role in students' school success and academic development. Students' effective learning is strongly linked to their metacognition, which enables students to choose effective strategies for accessing new knowledge, know how to proceed on challenging learning tasks, judge the quality of their own learning, and overcome learning difficulties (Zimmerman & Moylan, 2009). Therefore, the fostering of metacognition should play an important role in the educational context. Previous research has shown that the development of metacog- nitive strategy knowledge (MSK) begins at a very early age and continues over the entire life span (Alexander, Fabricius, Fleming, Zwahr, & Brown, 2003; Schneider, Kron-Sperl, & Hünnerkopf, 2009). Research has indicated that MSK of adolescents develops mainly through constant learning experiences and education and not so much due to improvement with age (Schneider, 2015). In line with this, studies found that teachers who focused on metacognitive instruction enabled students to gain greater insights into MSK for succeeding at academic challenges (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2003; Hartmann, 2001). For one, MSK can be promoted directly through specific training programs or explicit instruction. Researcher-designed instructional interventions and training programs were found to be effective in several studies and meta-analyses (Dignath & Büttner, 2008; Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996). For another, teachers can promote MSK indirectly through the design of the learning environment (De Corte, Verschaffel, & Masui, 2004; Kistner et al., 2010). However, there is a lack of studies examining the effect of different characteristics of a learning environment in a regular classroom context at the upper secondary school level. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analyze the relationships between perceived learning environments and students' MSK.

1.1 Metacognitive strategy knowledge and its development

Metacognition is broadly understood as thinking about one's own thinking; it refers to knowledge about and regulation of cognitive functions (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 2002). This study focuses on the knowledge component of metacognition. Metacognitive knowledge is knowledge that is acquired through experience and stored in long-term memory (for an overview see Tarricone, 2011). At least two knowledge components can be distinguished: Declarative metacognitive knowledge encompasses knowledge about what measures can be taken to solve a task, and procedural metacognitive knowledge can be described as knowledge about how strategies work and have to be applied (Schneider, 2015). This study focuses on metacognitive strategy knowledge (MSK). This concept is based on Flavell's (1979) work on declarative metamemory, which refers to people's verbalizable, stable, and consciously accessible knowledge of their own processing skills. It is knowledge about higher-order thinking strategies that affects the information and memory process (Pintrich, 2002). MSK involves knowledge about the specific demands of different tasks and what task characteristics call for the use of specific strategies. Moreover, MSK encompasses knowledge about the usefulness and characteristics of strategies (Flavell, 1979). This knowledge enables students to know why and when strategies are effective for processing information (Schraw & Moshman, 1995). The connection of the task and strategy dimension of MSK is realized in task performance, when students are challenged by demanding tasks and have to select and use effective strategies to successfully solve those tasks. In sum, MSK includes knowledge about effective methods of learning and enables learners to choose useful strategies in view of the demands of a task.

There is broad agreement in the literature that a rudimentary understanding of declarative metamemory develops in early childhood (Schneider, 2015). …

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