A study examined students' metacognitive response to ambiguous literacy tasks to determine the relationship between that response and academic achievement. Subjects were 11 students chosen from a fifth-grade classroom in a small, urban school serving a predominantly black, middle class neighborhood. Two literacy tasks were identified as ambiguous: (1) weekly spelling assignments; and (2) daily reading assignments. Data were collected by means of observer notes, copies of task products, end-of-unit test grades, composite spelling story grades, and structured interviews with the subjects. Results revealed three levels of metacognitive plans for completing ambiguous literacy tasks which appeared to represent a depth dimension of difference among students. The highest level, labeled"Rich Metacognitive Plans," was distinguishable from other plans by elaborated ideas and language and by indications that the students who articulated such plans seemed to have the "big picture" of both the intent and the whole of the task itself. "Simple Metacognitive Plans" were characterized by responses that were flatter, with fewer details and alternatives for completing the task, while "Undefined Metacognitive Plans" occurred in response to the spelling story task only. Results also revealed an additional dimension of functionality--the degree to which the plans seemed to work. Grade achievement in spelling and reading were highly consistent with quality and depth of students' metacognitive plans for task completion. (Two tables of data are included.) (KEH)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference (39th, Austin, TX, November 28-December 2, 1989).