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Metacognitive knowledge in children at early elementary school


In metacognition research, many studies focused on metacognitive knowledge of preschoolers or children at the end of elementary school or secondary school, but investigations of children starting elementary school are quite limited. The present study, thus, took a closer look at children’s knowledge about mental processes and strategies in early elementary school aiming to extend findings on the respective age period. Therefore, at first, a new test that can be administered in group settings and that assesses a broad concept of children’s metacognitive knowledge in early elementary school was evaluated. Furthermore, analyses on the structure of metacognitive knowledge were carried out in cross-sectional as well as longitudinal analyses. In a longitudinal design, the new test instrument was administered to 870 children at the end of first grade and again one year later (N = 720). Item Response models were used to evaluate the construct validity of the test. Test characteristics were checked based on different fit statistics, test fairness, and discriminant validity. In summary, the test exhibited good psychometric properties. Analyses on the dimensionality of the assessed metacognitive knowledge revealed that different strategies seemed to form rather distinct dimensions of metacognitive knowledge. However, these dimensions showed a rather homogeneous development from first to second grade. Impacts of the findings on theoretical considerations and on the theoretical understanding of metacognitive knowledge and further analyses with metacognitive competence data are discussed.

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    The test was developed under the direction of K. Lockl and S. Ebert as part of a subproject (headed by S. Weinert) within the interdisciplinary research group BiKS.


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The study presented is conducted in the subproject “Analysis of the relationship between acquisition and cognitive development, and acquisition of self-regulative skills and characteristics of adult-child interaction” (Prof. Dr. Sabine Weinert), focusing on educational and psychological research questions. The subproject is part of the larger interdisciplinary research group BiKS, funded by the German Research Foundation. We would like to thank all participating children and their parents as well as all students engaged in data collection for their most active cooperation.

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Correspondence to Kerstin Haberkorn.



Table 5 The 15 items of the metacognitive knowledge test. All items were read aloud to the children by the test examiner. For each item, the children were asked which option might be better for performing a given task or whether they thought both options were equally good
Table 6 Item parameters for the metacognitive knowledge test in first and second grade. The Rasch model was estimated by constraining the mean of the latent ability to be zero

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Haberkorn, K., Lockl, K., Pohl, S. et al. Metacognitive knowledge in children at early elementary school. Metacognition Learning 9, 239–263 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11409-014-9115-1

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  • Metacognitive knowledge
  • Test evaluation
  • Structure
  • Longitudinal design