High among the many purposes of education is the conjecture that higher-levels of cognitive activity are important to learning and intellectual development. One of the most exciting educational implications is the leverage that one may expect by enhancing learning at the cognitive and metacognitive levels. Despite the relatively rich history in both cognition and metacognition, no consensus has emerged as to the nature of higher-level knowledge. The present study aimed to know more about: (1) the nature of metacognition, and to characterize facets of higher-level metacognitive thought; (2) the process by which individuals change their metacognitive capacities with experience; and (3) the role of pedagogical practices in facilitating changes in metacognition. Six cohorts of elementary students (grades 1-6 participated in this naturalistic study across three academic years. Analysis of the data supports the following claims. First, metacognition is within the capabilities of young (school age) children. Second, children's metacognitive ability is multifaceted in nature, it can be probed and teased apart. Third, changes in metacognitive sophistication can be gained by actively engaging in the process. Fourth, changes in metacognitive ability and conceptual understanding may be more closely linked to the individual student's epistemological stance. (Contains 102 references.) (Author)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (Boston, MA, March 28-31, 1999). Paper has a small font.