Metacognitive Awareness and Academic Achievement

Introduction

Over the years, scholars in the education field have actively developed studies to develop the best motivational models to be applied in the teaching field for the purpose of enhancing the performance of students. The main motivation for this study was to establish a comprehensive strategy for students to apply when studying different complex concepts in class. While there are many theories related to the enhancement of performance in school, there are limited guidelines to the practical implementation of the respective models. One of the motivational elements in enhancing the performance of students in class is the use of self-evaluation. Self-evaluation entails a regular scrutiny of individual performance on grasping the concepts introduced in class.

Various researchers have developed studies to review the effectiveness of this approach in enhancing the performance of students. It is apparent that there is a need for researchers to look into the validity of the hypothesis that self-regulated learning platforms enhance the performance of students. Several studies have been developed to evaluate the efficiency and accuracy of the metacognition process involved in self-regulation to enhance performance. Additionally, a number of scientists have sought to define the role metacognition plays in the sphere of education and determine its main major concepts. Besides, the term is traditionally defined as “thinking about one’s thinking” (Chick, n.d., par. 1).

However, the precise investigation of the metacognition process shows that it is not that simple. First of all, it refers to the procedures that are used to plan, monitor, evaluate, and investigate a persons performance and comprehension. Metacognition provides learners with the crucial information related to their thinking process and learning outcomes which could be used to guarantee the better results. Finally, a definition of the term also depends on the context as it could be used to describe a number of practices applied to achieve the improvement of cognitive processes and learning outcomes of students.

Several studies have revealed that the ability to understand the metacognitive process, evaluate it, and control it can help in increasing the cognitive ability required in learning. Most of the studies also reveal that the control of metacognition is based on the development of the right responses to various cues. When an individual has the appropriate response to cues, their performance in cognition is enhanced; however, inaccuracy in the use of cues can lead to the deterioration in learning. This paper looks into three studies that focused on metacognition in self-regulation as a viable approach to enhancing performance in learning. The development of accurate cues in metacognition enhances the performance of students because it fosters the accurate retrieval of concepts from the memory.

Literature Review

Thiede, Griffin, Wiley, and Anderson (2010) conducted a qualitative study that included two experiments with a group of at-risk college students and typical college students. The at-risk participants were involved in a low performance level in comprehension subjects, whereas the typical students performed fairly well. The study focused on highlighting the role of meta-comprehension accuracy in the development of cues that enhance the ability to create a more efficient memory retrieval process.

The first experiment involved the subjection of the participants to a comprehension process that was followed by a delayed test to summarize the comprehended ideas. The results revealed that the at-risk students performed a relatively lowly in summarizing the concepts than their typical student counterparts. These findings were influenced by the fact that the at-risk students did not develop accurate cues to help them in the development of effective memory for the summarization test.

The second experiment involved the development of concept mapping model that facilitated the development of the appropriate cues for the at-risk participants. The result of the new paradigm was a positive enhancement of the ability of the at-risk students to summarize the concepts. This study affirms the hypothesis that self-regulation with ultimate accuracy in the development of cues can improve performance in learning for students. However, the study also reveals that there are incidences where the development of cues can be inaccurate, leading to relatively low performance in tests. Students should, therefore, consider developing better meta-comprehension skills to facilitate the development of efficiency in cues development.

Serra and Metcalfe (2009) conducted a qualitative study to highlight the factors that are required to develop an accurate metacognition to enhance the efficiency of self-regulation in learning. According to the study, there are three aspects of metacognition that must be satisfied for the required accuracy in the development of cues to take place. These aspects include acquiring knowledge about metacognition, monitoring the metacognition process, and controlling it. The knowledge about metacognition should be availed to students so that they can learn how to develop cues related to the various concepts they intend to learn. Through the development of metacognition skills, students can effectively control the development of memory.

The monitoring process entails the articulation of cues in a manner that facilitates efficiency in remembering the different ideas gathered from a comprehension process. Monitoring metacognition processes is vital because the process is associated with errors that might lead to the creation of cues that do not help in remembering the required concepts. The controlling aspect entails the ability to employ metacognition where it is required. This is a skill in self-regulation that every student must be guided to attain because it enhances their ability to comprehend ideas. This study revealed that it is possible to influence the accuracy of metacognition cues through training the mind to think about ideas in a concise and articulate manner.

As more scholars embark on a course to highlight the accuracy in metacognitive judgment in a criterion learning paradigm, Pyc, Rawson, Aschenbrenner (2014) developed a study to reveal the relationship between cues and judgment of learning and the performance of the participants in criterion learning. The essence of the experiment was to reveal the relationship between criterion learning and the ability to monitor the metacognitive process. The researchers performed a test-restudy experiment until the participants could recall the items accurately.

The researcher then compared the cues used by the participants, their judgment of learning, and the subsequent performance in the tests. The results of the experiment revealed that the cues associated with the judgment of learning were not efficient in predicting the performance of the participants. Contrastingly, the delayed judgment of learning led to a significant increase in the performance in the tests. The timing of the judgment of learning had an effect on the performance in the subsequent tests. The delayed judgment of learning increases the accuracy in the utilization of the metacognitive cues. The study further revealed that in the initial process of learning, individuals normally use intrinsic cues in comprehension, which are relatively inefficient in fostering learning.

However, as the learning process becomes repetitive, individuals shift from the reliance on intrinsic cues to mnemonic cues. Mnemonic cues are relatively accurate in the retrieval of information; hence, with practice comes higher levels of performance among students. The implication of the findings on the part of students is that they would rather use the delayed judgment of learning in the process of self-regulation because the associated cues have a higher influence on the performance in tests (Pyc, Rawson, & Aschenbrenner, 2014).

The study also revealed that different concepts require different levels of repetition to develop the appropriate cues that enhance the retention of the associated information. This means that students do not have to struggle with conceptualizing all the ideas learned during self-regulation. The retention level of information should be identified in the monitoring process of the metacognitive process, and students should concentrate on learning the concepts that portray repetitive inaccuracy in cues.

Furthermore, Young and Fry (2008) also delve into the investigation of the impact metacognition processes and awareness might have on students and their academic performance. They conducted a study to reveal the efficiency of metacognitive strategy and its possible implications. The researchers are sure that the implementation of metacognition to monitor and control the students cognition could have the beneficial effect on their final results (Young & Fry, 2008). Young and Fry tend to examine the correlation between metacognition and measures of academic achievement within a classroom setting.

They used undergraduate and graduate education students at a small institution in Southeast Texas to collect the data needed for their study. In the course of the investigation, the researchers prove the great impact metacognitive processes and skills have on students academic performance. They conclude that the basic knowledge about how they learn help students to acquire the new knowledge more efficiently and to apply it to new learning situations which increases their performance.

Moreover, Young and Fry outline the great difference between graduate and undergraduate students with regard to regulation of cognition factor but not the knowledge. This difference lies in the performance level and basic cognitive skills which differ depending on the level of metacognition skills. The given study also proves the significant role of metacognition in the learning process as it creates the basis for successful learning and has the direct influence on students academic performance.

The purpose of this study is to see whether monitoring accuracy is associated with exam performance. The study predicts that people who have high monitoring accuracy perform better on exams. The validation of the hypothesis would imply that it is possible to enhance individual performance through controlling and monitoring metacognitive processes.

In their work, Everson and Tobias (1998) paid attention to the connection between a measure of metacognitive word knowledge and academic performance. Professionals conducted two studies to find out what really happens. As they got to know, when dealing with a new text, students learned the meaning of some words. Correct and incorrect estimates mainly depended on their knowledge of English and efficiency in humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Metacognitive word knowledge turned out to be connected to GPA in English. Existing knowledge in social science and science had the lowest indexes.

The second study was focused on the connection with the prior learning in college. It was found that the metacognitive estimates can be used to forecast academic performance of entering students while they are freshmen in the college. In both cases, preliminary analyses show that there is no difference whether the task included an expository or narrative passage and whether new vocabulary was identified explicitly or implicitly. Thus, this article proves the validity of the metacognitive word knowledge in the framework of knowledge monitoring and prediction. The research showed that even though both the knowledge of vocabulary and monitoring ability improved, better results and improvement of metacognitive skills were observed in more capable students.

Methodology

Participants

The study targeted 23 female respondents who were students from Zayed University in Abu Dhabi Campus. The research targeted the respondents majoring in psychology and human services. The average age of the respondents was capped between 20 and 24 years. Majority of the respondents were drawn from students in their third year of study who major in psychology.

The respondents were chosen randomly within the psychology department. The rationale for targeting this category of respondent was informed by the need to how monitor accuracy is associated with exam performance within the department. The sample space of 23 respondents is adequate to study the subject topic as representing the actual situation in how the extent to which people evaluations of their memory (or learning) match with their performance.

Research design and procedure

The researcher used correlation design to test the response accuracy and confidence rating as the dependent variables. The researcher applied appropriate approach in scrutinizing collected data by use of Excel software.

The participants filled questionnaires in the 50-minutes in-class test. The participants were expected to answer the closed-ended questions in the accurate manner. The exam was based on areas of study that the respondents had already covered during normal lessons. The 50-minutes test was carried out in classes of the respondents. The respondents consented to voluntary test. From the previously targeted 23 respondents, only one respondent turned down the request participate in the study.

Before the commencement of the examination, each respondent was asked to make a prediction of her expected grade from a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the highest score and one being the least score. Upon completion of every answer, each respondent was asked to rate the answers on a continuum that starts with ‘really confident’ and ends with ‘really not confident’. Finally, each respondent was asked to estimate her grade on the exam and the studying hours dedicated for the exam.

During data collection, it was necessary to observe certain steps that guarantee protection of the privacy of respondents by issuing informed consent letter requesting for permission and assuring the participants of their privacy. The informed consent form highlighted the scope of respondent’s participation, freedom to respond or not to respond to the questions, rights and responsibilities, and general permission to participate. The test was done in English language since the targeted respondents use English as first or second language.

Analytical tool

The scope of a study refers to the strategy of concentrating research on specific region and targeting specific group of respondents that are directly affected by the research aims. In relation to the proposed study, the scope of the research methodology was to examine the relationship between people evaluations of their memory (or learning) and their performance of the 23 participants. The instrument that was used to address this scope is guided test and questionnaire. The questionnaire enabled the targeted respondents to express different opinions on the validity of their answers.The design of the questionnaires was done in a simple language to ensure that the targeted respondents are fully integrated in the study.

After data collection, data analysis was carried out for the data collected through the questionnaire. The collected data from the exam was examined via the Excel to generate cross tabulation for carrying out comparative and correlational analysis.

Results

Accuracy monitoring is used to measure the extent to which the participants’ evaluation of their memory and learning capabilities associate with the high performance level. Upon conducting the experiment, it is necessary to assess whether such match exists and what is the extent of it. Within the framework of such assessment, I conducted a few correlations.

Exam Performance and Confidence Ratings

The overall exam performance summed up to 0.85 )SD=0.117) (proportion of correct responses). To convert the performance into the language of grades, such performance can be counted for a good B. Although the average does not give an account for results specifically, it is possible to say that the students have reached a high performance rate in the given test. Only one student has a proportion of correct answers that is lower than 0.7 (SD= 0.117); three students in the sample have given 100% correct responses. Overall, the performance rate was high for all participants regardless of their confidence rating.

Monitoring Accuracy

Monitoring accuracy indicates how accurate were participant in predicting their performance. In order to examine the accuracy of the participant predictions, several correlations have been conducted. First, I conducted a correlation between confidence rating and the exam performance. The average correlation (r) between the participants’ predictions of their performance – estimated self-efficacy – and grade-point is not significant: r = 0.248; p < 0.5 (Median = 0.294; SD = 0.254). A weak correlation, in this case, means that relying on a participant’s self-efficacy estimation, it is not possible to adequately predict their performance and proportion correct. The weakness of the correlation means that the participants were not quite accurate in predicting their performance.

Another correlation have been done to investigate how accurate were the participant in their rating. I have conducted a correlation between the rating given at the end of the exam and the students’ actual grade. The average correlation between the participants’ confidence rating at the end of the exam and their actual post-test grade outcome is also not significant r = 0.33; p < 0.5 (Median = 0.875; SD= 0.117). Such result indicates a weak association between the students’ confidence rates and their exam grades. This means that students were not able to give an accurate prediction of their performance in the exam.

The relationship between monitoring accuracy and exam performance

Further, we have to test the hypothesis on the presence of association between those with high learning monitoring accuracy who monitor their performance well and those with low learning monitoring accuracy who do not monitor their performance very well, and their learning outcomes. For that purpose, we have separated the participants into two groups based on how well did their self-efficacy estimation (cr) correlate with their exam performance. Participant with correlation below the mean (0.248) were characterize as a low monitoring accuracy group and participant with a correlation above the mean were characterized as a high monitoring accuracy group.

Three participants who had 100% correct test results do not meet the inclusion criteria, which is why they were excluded from the data analysis. Based on the correlation score, high monitoring accuracy group consisted of 11 participants and low monitoring efficacy group amounted to eight participants. The mean for the high monitoring accuracy group and the low monitoring accuracy group was 0.43 and -0.00, respectively. The average proportion correct for these two groups was 0.836 (SD= 0.07) and 0.812 (SD= 0.14), respectively.

A t-test was conducted to determine if the groups’ performance was significantly different from each other. The result of the t-test for both groups was t (19) = 0.46, p = 0.64. The results of the t-test do not demonstrate any significant difference in the exam performance between students who monitor their learning well and those with low learning monitoring accuracy. Thus, contrary to the initial hypothesis, the absence of the difference indicates that higher or lower accuracy monitoring does not determine the performance rate. Hence, the results suggest that the presence of a high monitoring accuracy is not an indicator of a high academic performance.

Mean proportions correct across students with high MA (1) and low MA (2).
Figure 1. Mean proportions correct across students with high MA (1) and low MA (2).

MA= monitoring accuracy.

References

Chick, N. (n.d.). Metacognition.

Everson, H., & Tobias, S. (1998). The ability to estimate knowledge and performance in college: A metacognitive analysis. Instructional Science, 26(1), 65–79.

Pyc, M. A., Rawson, K. A., & Aschenbrenner, A. J. (2014). Metacognitive monitoring during criterion learning: When and why are judgments accurate?. Memory & cognition, 42(6), 886-897.

Serra, M. J., & Metcalfe, J. (2009). 15 Effective Implementation of Metacognition. Handbook of metacognition in education, 1(1), 1-44.

Thiede, K. W., Griffin, T. D., Wiley, J., & Anderson, M. C. (2010). Poor metacomprehension accuracy as a result of inappropriate cue use. Discourse Processes, 47(4), 331-362.

Young, A., & Fry, J. (2008). Metacognitive awareness and academic achievement in college students. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 1-10.