The Effect of Grade Level, Achievement, and Type of Task on Metacognitive Awareness in Elementary Mathematics

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Bongiovani, Maryanne Bozarth
Torney-Purta, Judith
Metacognition is an awareness of how one thinks and learns. It includes an awareness of the strategies used to learn as well as an awareness of oneself as a learner. The purpose of this study was to describe children's metacognitive awareness during a classroom type task. A further purpose was to determine how grade level, achievement, and type of task influence this awareness. One hundred sixty-eight fourth, sixth, and eighth grade boys and girls were classified as high or low math achievers based on their performance on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, a group achievement test. These children were then randomly selected to receive either known or unknown math problems. The known math task was operationally defined as one that was easy; it was a problem that the children would be able to solve. The unknown task was operationally defined as one that was difficult, it was a math problem that these children would find unsolvable. lmmediately following the task, the children were given feedback about their performance and were then asked to identify types of thoughts they may have had as they were working on the problems. The types of thoughts included general and specific strategies as well as ability and effort self-evaluations. A 3 x 2 x 2 factorial analysis of variance design was used with Grade Level (four, six, and eight), Achievement (high and low), and Type of Task (known and unknown) as the between subjects factors. Findings showed that a known task elicited positive ability and effort self-evaluations for success. An unknown task evoked the use of more specific strategies than a known task. A grade level difference in metacognitive awareness showed that young children reported more metacognitive thoughts than older children.