Instructional Science

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 413–443 | Cite as

Scaffolding cognitive and metacognitive strategy instruction in regular class lessons

  • Helen Askell-WilliamsEmail author
  • Michael J. Lawson
  • Grace Skrzypiec


The quality of teachers’ knowledge about how people learn influences students’ learning outcomes. Similarly, the quality of students’ knowledge about how they learn influences their engagement in self-regulated learning and consequently, their learning achievement. There is a gap between research findings that support these two premises and teaching–learning practices in classrooms. In this paper we describe attempts to reduce this gap. In Study 1 we surveyed early adolescent students’ cognitive and metacognitive strategy use and demonstrated that students’ cognitive and metacognitive strategy knowledge has substantial room for improvement. In Studies 2 and 3 we collaborated with teachers to embed explicit cognitive and metacognitive strategy instruction, using learning protocols, into regular class lessons. Studies 2 and 3 showed that the learning protocols slipped readily into teachers’ typical lesson designs, scaffolded teachers’ delivery of strategy instruction, and scaffolded some students’ acquisition of strategy knowledge, although progress was sometimes slow. Recommendations are presented for supporting teachers and students to engage with cognitive and metacognitive strategy instruction.


Theory–practice gap Teacher knowledge Cognitive strategies Metacognitive strategies Learning protocols 



This project was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant 2007–2009. Partners in the grant included Flinders University, the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services, Aberfoyle Park High School, Blackwood High School, Christies Beach High School and Flagstaff Primary School. Approval for this project was granted by the Flinders University Social and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee and the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services.


  1. Abdel-Khalek, A. (2006). Measuring happiness with a single-item scale. Social Behaviour and Personality, 34(2), 139–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ACARA (n.d.). The Australian curriculum: Cross curriculum priorities. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved 12 June 2011 from
  3. Alexander, P. A. (2005). Teaching towards expertise. In P. Tomlinson, J. Dockrell, & P. Winne (Eds.), Pedagogy–teaching for learning (pp. 29–45). Leicester, UK: England British Psychological Society.Google Scholar
  4. Alexander, P. A., Graham, S., & Harris, K. R. (1998). A perspective on strategy research: Progress and prospects. Educational Psychology Review, 10(2), 129–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alexander, P. A., Jetton, T. L., & Kulikowich, J. M. (1995). Interrelationship of knowledge, interest and recall: Assessing a model of domain learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(4), 559–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alexander, P. A., & Judy, J. E. (1988). The interaction of domain-specific and strategic knowledge in academic performance. Review of Educational Research, 58(4), 375–404.Google Scholar
  7. Anderson, J. R. (2010). Cognitive psychology and its implications (7th ed.). New York: Worth.Google Scholar
  8. Askell-Williams, H., & Lawson, M. J. (2005a). Representing the dynamic complexity of students’ mental models of learning in order to provide ‘entry points’ for teaching. New Horizons in Education, 113, 16–40.Google Scholar
  9. Askell-Williams, H., & Lawson, M. J. (2005b). Students’ knowledge about the value of discussions for teaching and learning. Social Psychology of Education, 8, 83–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Askell-Williams, H., Lawson, M. J., & Murray-Harvey, R. (2007a). What happens in my university classes that helps me to learn? Teacher education students’ instructional metacognitive knowledge. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
  11. Askell-Williams, H., Lawson, M. J., & Tran, T. A. T. (2007b). Learners’ mental models about learning are multidimensional, temporally changeable, and situationally acute. In V. N. Galwye (Ed.), Progress in educational psychology research. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  12. Ausubel, D. P. (1960). The use of advance organisers in the learning and retention of meaningful verbal material. Journal of Educational Psychology, 51(5), 267–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1989). Intentional learning as a goal of instruction. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 361–392). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Berthold, K., Nückles, M., & Renkl, A. (2007). Do learning protocols support learning strategies and outcomes? The role of cognitive and metacognitive prompts. Learning and Instruction, 17, 564–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school, Expanded edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  17. Brodzinsky, D. M., Elias, M. J., Steiger, C., Simon, J., Gill, M., & Clarke Hitt, J. (1992). Coping scale for children and youth: Scale development and validation. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 13, 195–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bruner, J. S. (1973). Beyond the information given; Studies in the psychology of knowing. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  19. Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and self-regulated learning: A theoretical synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65, 245–281.Google Scholar
  20. Cannon, C. (2006). Implementing research practices. The High School Journal, 89(4), 8–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chi, M. T. H., Bassok, M., Lewis, M. W., Reimann, P., & Glaser, R. (1989). Self-explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems. Cognitive Science, 13, 145–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cook-Sather, A. (2002). Authorizing students’ perspectives: Toward trust, dialogue and change in education. Educational Researcher, 31(4), 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. de Boer, A. G., van Lanschot, J. J., Stalmeier, P. F., van Sandick, J. W., Hulscher, J. B., de Haes, J. C., et al. (2004). Is a single-item visual analogue scale as valid, reliable and responsive as multi-item scales in measuring quality of life? Quality of Life Research, 13, 311–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dignath, C., & Büttner, G. (2008). Components of fostering self-regulated learning among students. A meta-analysis on intervention studies at primary and secondary school level. Metacognition and Learning, 3, 231–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J. S., Goldsmith, H. H., & Hulle, C. A. V. (2006). Gender differences in temperament: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 33–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ewing, R. (2011). The arts and Australian education: Realising potential, Australian Education Review No 58. Melbourne: ACER. Retrieved 21 June 2011 from
  27. Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS (3rd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring. American Psychologist, 34, 906–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (1993). Manual: The adolescent coping scale. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  30. Gough, J. (1997). Exploring constructivism(s): The gaps between philosophy, psychology, praxis and common sense(s). In S. Groves, J. B. Jane, I. Robottom, & R. Tytler (Eds.), Contemporary approaches to research in mathematics, science, health, and environmental education (pp. 77–87). Burwood: Deakin University Centre for Studies in Mathematics, Science and Environmental Education.Google Scholar
  31. Grossman, P. L. (1995). Teachers’ knowledge. In L. W. Anderson (Ed.), International encyclopedia of teaching and teacher education (2nd ed., pp. 20–24). Tarrytown, NY: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  32. Grossman, P. L., & Stodolsky, S. S. (1995). Content as context: The role of school subjects in secondary school teaching. Educational Researcher, 24(8), 5–11, 23.Google Scholar
  33. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning. Routledge: Oxon.Google Scholar
  34. Hattie, J., Biggs, J. B., & Purdie, N. (1996). Effects of student learning skills interventions on student learning: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66, 99–136.Google Scholar
  35. Herzog, C., Price, J., & Dunlosky, J. (2008). How is knowledge generated about memory encoding strategy effectiveness? Learning and Individual Differences, 18, 430–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hübner, S., Nückles, M., & Renkl, A. (2010). Writing learning journals: Instructional support to overcome learning-strategy deficits. Learning and Instruction, 20, 18–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hugener, I., Pauli, C., Reusser, K., Lipowsky, F., Rakoczy, K., & Klieme, E. (2009). Teaching patterns and learning quality in Swiss and German mathematics lessons. Learning and Instruction, 19, 66–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hürny, C., Bernhard, J., Coates, A., Peterson, H. F., Castiglione-Gertsch, M., Gelber, R. D., et al. (1995). Responsiveness of a single-item indicator versus a multi-item scale. Medical Care, 34, 234–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Joram, E. (2007). Clashing epistemologies: Aspiring teachers’, practicing teachers’, and professors’ beliefs about knowledge and research in education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 123–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kalyuga, S. (2006). Rapid cognitive assessment of learners’ knowledge structures. Learning and Instruction, 16, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1992). Beyond modularity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  42. Kerr, D. H. (1981). The structure of quality in teaching. In J. F. Soltis (Ed.), Philosophy and education (Vol. 1, pp. 61–93). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  43. Kiewra, K. A. (2002). How classroom teachers can help students learn and teach them how to learn. Theory into Practice, 41, 71–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Koriat, A., & Bjork, R. A. (2006). Illusions of competence during study can be remedied by manipulations that enhance learner’s sensitivity to retrieval conditions at test. Memory & Cognition, 34, 959–972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Koskey, K. L. K., Karabenick, S. A., Woolley, M. E., Bonney, C. R., & Dever, B. V. (2010). Cognitive validity of students’ self-reports of classroom mastery goal structure: What students are thinking and why it matters. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 35, 254–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Krosnick, J. A. (1999). Survey research. Annual Reviews of Psychology, 50, 537–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lawson, M. J. (1984). Being executive about metacognition. In J. Kirby (Ed.), Cognitive strategies and educational performance. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  48. Lawson, M. J., & Askell-Williams, H. (2001, July). What facilitates learning in my university classes? The students’ account. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.Google Scholar
  49. Lawson, M. J., & Askell-Williams, H. (2002, September). What learners know about what their teacher is doing. Paper presented at the Australian Council for Educational Administration International Conference, Adelaide, Australia.Google Scholar
  50. Lawson, M. J., Askell-Williams, H., & Murray-Harvey, R. (2009). The quality of teacher’s knowledge. In L. J. Saha & A. G. Dworkin (Eds.), The new international handbook of teachers and teaching. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  51. Luyten, L., Lowyck, J., & Tuerlinckx, F. (2001). Task perception as a mediating variable: A contribution to the validation of instructional knowledge. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 203–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mattick, K., & Knight, L. (2007). High-quality learning: harder to achieve than we think? Medical Education, 41, 638–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mayer, R. E. (1998). Cognitive, metacognitive, and motivational aspects of problem solving. Instructional Science, 26, 49–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. McLeod, L. (2008). History teachers’ reading of professional journals. Unpublished Doctor of Education Thesis, Flinders University, Adelaide.Google Scholar
  55. Mevarech, Z. R., & Amrany, C. (2008). Immediate and delayed effects of meta-cognitive instruction on regulation of cognition and mathematics achievement. Metacognition and Learning, 3, 147–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Midgley, C., Maehr, M. L., Hruda, L. Z., Anderman, E., Anderman, L., Freeman, K. E., et al. (2000). Manual for the patterns of adaptive learning scales. Retrieved 11 June 2011 from
  57. MindMatters. (2010). Leading mental health and wellbeing. Retrieved 11 June 2011 from
  58. Mintzes, J. J., & Novak, J. D. (2000). Assessing science understanding: The epistemological vee diagram. In J. J. Mintzes, J. D. Novak, & J. W. Wandersee (Eds.), Assessing science understanding: A human constructivist view (pp. 41–69). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  59. Nelson, T. O. (1996). Consciousness and metacognition. American Psychologist, 51, 102–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Novak, J. D. (1990). Concept maps and Vee diagrams: Two metacognitive tools to facilitate meaningful learning. Instructional Science, 19, 29–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Nückles, M., Hübner, S., & Renkl, A. (2009). Enhancing self-regulated learning by writing learning protocols. Learning and Instruction, 19(3), 259–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nuthall, G. (2004). Relating classroom teaching to student learning: A critical analysis of why research has failed to bridge the theory-practice gap. Harvard Educational Review, 74, 273–306.Google Scholar
  63. OECD. (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. OECD. (2009). Equally prepared for life? How 15-year-old boys and girls perform in school. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.Google Scholar
  65. OECD. (2010). PISA 2009 results: Executive summary. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.Google Scholar
  66. Pearsall, N. R., Skipper, J. J., & Mintzes, J. J. (1997). Knowledge restructuring in the life sciences: A longitudinal study of conceptual change in biology. Science Education, 81, 193–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Pintrich, P. R. (2004). A conceptual framework for assessing motivation and self-regulated learning in college students. Educational psychology review, 16, 385–407.Google Scholar
  68. Pintrich, P. R., & DeGroot, R. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 33–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Pressley, M. (1995). Introduction: good thinking, good teaching, and alternative ways of studying good thinking and good teaching. In M. Pressley & C. McCormick (Eds.), Cognition, teaching, and assessment (pp. 1–11). New York: Harper Collins College Publishers.Google Scholar
  70. Pressley, M., Van Etten, S., Yokoi, L., Freebern, G., & Van Meter, P. (1998). The metacognition of college studentship: A grounded theory approach. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in educational theory and practice (pp. 347–366). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  71. Rijavec, M., & Brdar, I. (1997). Coping with school failure: Development of the school failure coping scale. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 12, 37–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Rohrer, D., & Pashler, H. (2010). Recent research on human learning challenges conventional instructional strategies. Educational Researcher, 39, 406–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Rowe, K. J. (2002). The importance of teacher quality. Retrieved 11 June 2011 from
  74. Schraw, G. (1994). The effect of metacognitive knowledge on local and global monitoring. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19, 143–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Schraw, G. (1998). Promoting general metacognitive awareness. Instructional Science, 26, 113–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Schraw, G., & Dennison, R. S. (1994). Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19, 460–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schunk, D. H., & Zimmerman, B. J. (Eds.). (1989). Self regulated learning and academic achievement: Theory, research and practice. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  78. Shucksmith, J., Philip, K., Spratt, J., & Watson, C. (2005). Investigating the link between mental health and behaviour in schools. A report to the Scottish Executive Education Department, Pupil Support and Inclusion Division. Retrieved 11 June 2011 from
  79. Shulman, L. S. (1986a). Paradigms and research programs in the study of teaching: A contemporary perspective. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 3–36). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  80. Shulman, L. S. (1986b). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4–14.Google Scholar
  81. Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of a new reform. Harvard Education Review, 57, 1–22.Google Scholar
  82. Slee, P. T., Murray-Harvey, R., & Wotherspoon, A. (2008). Coping with bullying (DVD and booklet). Adelaide, SA, Australia: Flinders University.Google Scholar
  83. Spörer, N., & Brunstein, J. C. (2009). Fostering the reading comprehension of secondary school students through peer-assisted learning: Effects on strategy knowledge, strategy use, and task performance. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 289–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Sweller, J. (2006). The worked example effect and human cognition. Learning and Instruction, 16, 165–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Tobin, K., Tippins, D. J., & Gallard, A. J. (1994). Research on instructional strategies for teaching science. In D. L. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on science teaching and learning (pp. 45–93). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  86. Tran, T. T., & Lawson, M. J. (2007). Students’ pedagogical knowledge about teachers’ use of questions. International Education Journal, 8, 417–432.Google Scholar
  87. Veenman, M. J., van Hout-Wolters, B. H. A. M., & Afflerbach, P. (2006). Metacognition and learning: conceptual and methodological considerations. Metacognition and Learning, 1, 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Weinstein, C. E., & Mayer, R. E. (1986). The teaching of learning strategies. In C. M. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research in teaching (pp. 315–327). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  89. White, R. T., & Gunstone, R. F. (1992). Probing understanding. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  90. Winne, P. H. (1987). Why process-product research cannot explain process-product findings and a proposed remedy: The cognitive mediational paradigm. Teaching and Teacher Education, 3, 333–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Winne, P. H. (1996). A metacognitive view of individual differences in self regulated learning. Learning and Individual Differences, 8, 327–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Winne, P. H., & Butler, D. L. (1994). Student cognitive processing and learning. In T. Husen & T. N. Postelthwaite (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of education (2nd ed., pp. 5739–5745). Oxford, UK: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  93. Winne, P. H., & Hadwin, A. F. (1998). Studying as self-regulated learning. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in educational theory and practice (pp. 277–304). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  94. Woolfolk-Hoy, A., & Tschannen-Moran, M. (1999). Implications of cognitive approaches to peer learning for teacher education. In A. King & A. M. O’Donnell (Eds.), Cognitive perspectives on peer learning (pp. 257–283). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  95. Zohar, A., & David, A. B. (2008). Explicit teaching of meta-strategic knowledge in authentic classroom situations. Metacognition and Learning, 3, 59–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Askell-Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael J. Lawson
    • 1
  • Grace Skrzypiec
    • 1
  1. 1.Flinders Educational Futures Research Institute, School of EducationFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations