Metacognition, Strategies, Achievement, and Demographics: Relationships across Countries

By Callan, Gregory L.; Finch, W. Holmes et al. | Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, October 2016 | Go to article overview

Metacognition, Strategies, Achievement, and Demographics: Relationships across Countries


Callan, Gregory L., Finch, W. Holmes, Marchant, Gregory J., German, Rachel L., Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri


The factors influencing student learning is a shared concern internationally. The role of student demographics, the nature of their schools, and the wealth and inequality of their countries are established factors in academic achievement (Marchant & Finch, 2016). Identifying factors that impede learning is not a difficult task. Factors such as poverty, discrimination, and inequality all undermine efforts to educate children; however, it is more difficult to identify feasible and efficient solutions to improve learning outcomes or overcome disadvantages. Short of one-to-one instruction, the strategies students employ when approaching learning tasks may be one factor that could offset some of the other universal negatives.

A large body of research has examined the use of academic strategies, which entail a variety of tactics that may facilitate achievement (Boss & Vaughn, 2002; Ward & Traweek, 1993; Zimmerman, 2002). Although, multiple perspectives are discussed within the literature, and the terminology may differ slightly across these perspectives, some of the most common types of strategies include cognitive and metacognitive strategies (Cantrell et al., 2010; Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993). It should be noted that there are differences in the terminology and classification of academic strategies. Many have also classified various academic strategies into two broad categories of learning strategies and metacognitive strategies (PISA, 2009; Woolfolk, 2014). In particular, this perspective is consistent with the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA, 2009) which served as the primary data source for this study. From this perspective, learning strategies may entail both cognitive strategies and control strategies that are used to optimize students' learning of content. Cognitive strategies include a variety of actions but some popular strategies include memorization, elaboration, or summarization (PISA, 2009; Pintrich et al., 1993; Woolfolk, 2014). A common theme among these strategies is that they enhance learning by compensating for limitations on one's cognitive abilities. For example, one may choose to use a memorization strategy, such as rote repetition or creating an acronym, because without the support of such a strategy, the number of pieces of information to be remembered would exceed or strain the learner's memory capacity. Relatedly, another cognitive strategy, elaboration, entails creating connections between prior learning and new information, which supports learning by capitalizing on cognitive predispositions to remember content that is connected to prior knowledge.

On the other hand, control strategies have been defined in multiple ways within the literature; however, PISA (2009) describes control strategies as the actions that students take to identify the key purpose of a task or identify the main concepts. From this perspective, control strategies are considered to be within the larger category of learning strategies because the identification of key information should enhance learning (Gardner, Brown, Sanders, & Menke, 1992).

In contrast to learning strategies, another class of strategies within the PISA, 2009 measures include metacognitive strategies, which help a learner "think about his or her thinking" (Bruning, Schraw, & Norby, 2011). For example, a metacognitive strategy to check one's understanding of a paragraph immediately after reading the paragraph might increase the reader's awareness that he or she did not understand the text. Similarly, one may summarize a paragraph into their own words to monitor how well they understood the text. A primary benefit of metacognitive strategies is that increased awareness, especially when a learner is struggling, provides an opportunity for the learner to take actions, such as utilizing learning strategies, to improve learning.

Learning Strategies, Metacognitive Strategies, and Achievement

Research has been relatively consistent in showing that metacognitive strategies are related to achievement and learning across many content areas, but especially reading, mathematics, and science. …

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