European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 509–523 | Cite as

Changes in the relation between cognitive and metacognitive skills during the acquisition of expertise

  • Marcel VeenmanEmail author
  • Jan J. Elshout


This paper focuses on the transformation of general metacognitive skills of novices into domain-specific regulatory procedures of experts, and the relation of those skills to intelligence. Research has shown that the general metacognitive skills of novices, although partly correlated to intelligence, additionally contribute to learning outcome on top of intelligence. The metacognitive skills of experts appear to be domainspecific and unrelated to intelligence. Two experiments were conducted. The objective of the first experiment was to confirm and generalize these earlier results concerning the relation of intellectual ability, metacognitive skillfulness and learning of novices vs. advanced subjects. The objective of the second experiment was to investigate this relation under different conditions of task complexity. It was hypothesized that advanced subjects would regress to more novice-like behavior under very complex learning conditions (i.e., general metacognitive skills and intelligence would re-appear as combined predictors of learning outcome). On the other hand, low intelligent novices, irrespective of their metacognitive skillfulnes, were expected to fail on very complex problems. Results partly confirmed these hypotheses. Implications for the conditions under which metacognitive experiences should be implemented, are being discussed.

Key words

Expertise Intellectual ability Metacognitive skills 


Cet article porte sur la transformation des capacités métacognitives générales des novices en des procédures de régulation propres à des domaines qui sont celles des experts, ainsi que sur les relations entre ces capacités et l’intelligence. La recherche a montré que les capacités métacognitives générales des novices, faiblement corrélées à l’intelligence, ajoutent leurs effets à ce dernier facteur dans la réussite aux apprentissages. Les capacités métacognitives des experts sont spécifiques à des domaines et indépendantes de l’intelligence. Deux recherches ont été conduites. L’objectif de la première était de confirmer et de généraliser les relations antérieurement constatées entre aptitude intellecturlle, capacité métacognitive et apprentissage, chez les novices et chez les experts. L’objectif de la deuxième recherche était d’étudier les mêmes relations dans des conditions variable de complexité de la tâche. L’hypothèse était que dans les conditions d’une tâche très complexe, les sujets plus experts reviennent à des comportements proches de ceux des novices (i.e., capacités métacognitives générales et intelligence réapparaîtraient, dans ces conditions, comme prédicteurs associés de la réussite de l’apprentissage). D’autre part, des novices de faible intelligence, devaient échouer face à des problèmes très complexes, indépendamment de leurs capacité métacognitives. Les résultats vont en partie dans le sens de ces hypothèses. Les implications concernant les conditions d’exploitation des capacités métacognitives sont discutées.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Developmental and Educational PsychologyLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Dept. of PsychonomicsUniversity of AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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