Metacognition and Learning

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 159–177 | Cite as

What do second-order judgments tell us about low-performing students’ metacognitive awareness?

  • Eva S. FritzscheEmail author
  • Marion Händel
  • Stephan Kröner


According to the unskilled and unaware effect (Kruger and Dunning 1999), low-performing students tend to overestimate their performance. Differentiating the assessment of metacognitive judgments into performance judgments (PJs) and second-order judgments (SOJs), PJs of low-performing students tend to be inflated, while their SOJs are usually lower than those of high-performing students (Händel and Fritzsche 2016; Miller and Geraci 2011). This suggests some level of awareness. The present study investigated whether low-performers’ lower SOJs actually indicate metacognitive awareness. We studied SOJs after adequate and inadequate PJs, and investigated whether low-performers’ lower SOJs are made by default or whether their lower SOJs differ in a similar magnitude compared to those of high-performers (indicating metacognitive awareness). We address this issue by disentangling student and item effects via generalized linear mixed models. Reanalyzing the data of Händel and Fritzsche (2016) from N = 116 students, we found that SOJs depended on the students who provided the SOJ and on the items on which the SOJ was made. Overall, SOJs depended on the PJs and on the interaction of performance and PJs, but not on the performance itself. Separate analyses for students of different performance levels revealed that low-performing students showed less awareness, indicated by a non-significant interaction effect of performance and PJs. Thus, it takes mixed models to tell the whole story of low-performing students’ lower SOJs.


Metacognitive judgments Second-order judgments Generalized linear mixed models Unskilled and unaware 



This research was supported by a grant from the “Sonderfonds für wissenschaftliches Arbeiten an der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg“.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva S. Fritzsche
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marion Händel
    • 2
  • Stephan Kröner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Teacher EducationTUM School of Education, Technical University of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NürnbergNürnbergGermany
  3. 3.Department of EducationFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NürnbergNürnbergGermany

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