Metacognition and Learning

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 339–368 | Cite as

Assessing metacognitive knowledge in 3–5 year olds: the development of a metacognitive knowledge interview (McKI)

  • Loren M. Marulis
  • Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar
  • Amanda L. Berhenke
  • David Whitebread


Historically, early cognitive skills have been underestimated, largely as a result of the ways these competencies have been measured, which is particularly pervasive in the area of metacognition. Only recently have researchers begun to detect evidence of contextualized metacognition in 3–5 year old preschool children through the use of observational assessment tools (e.g., Whitebread et al. J Cogn Educ Psychol 3:433-455, 2007, Metacognition Learn 4:63-85, 2009). While these observational methods are a more sensitive way to capture metacognition in young children, their exclusive use may not result in a comprehensive depiction of early metacognitive competency. In the current study, we describe the development of a metacognitive knowledge interview (McKI) and what it reveals about metacognitive processes in 43 3–5 year olds (including investigating face validity). Findings indicate that the McKI (a) is a developmentally appropriate measure for 3–5 year olds, (b) is capable of eliciting articulated metacognitive knowledge when engaging in a contextualized problem-solving task, (c) shows the expected developmental trend (i.e., older children perform at a higher level and scores increased over the course of a school year), and (d) provides sufficient variation across children. Implications for future research are discussed, including the importance of using multiple measurement tools when studying early metacognitive development.


Metacognition Metacognitive Knowledge Early childhood Interview Assessment 



We would like to thank the preschool children and their teachers for their time and effort in making this research possible. This research—and the writing of the manuscript—was funded by the generous support provided to the first author by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship Program, the University of Michigan Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship Program, and the American Psychological Association (APA) Dissertation Research Award. Part of the research presented in this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, B.C., April 2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loren M. Marulis
    • 1
  • Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar
    • 2
  • Amanda L. Berhenke
    • 3
  • David Whitebread
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentConnecticut CollegeNew LondonUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology & EducationAlbertus Magnus CollegeNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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