While metacognition is commonly a focus of instruction within the school context and used to help improve students’ academic achievement (Larkin, 2010; Pintrich, 2002; Young, 2010), such instruction is typically limited to students in the upper grades (e.g., grades 4 and higher). This is likely due to wide-spread beliefs within the educational field that the ability to think metacognitively does not emerge until 8 to 12 years of age (Desoete, 2008). However, there is emerging evidence in support of children’s ability to be metacognitive and strategic in their learning at an earlier age (Desoete, 2008; Larkin, 2010; Shamir, Mevarech, & Gida, 2009; Whitebread et al., 2009). The present study was designed to examine whether metacognition can be developed and enhanced during the early school years through instruction, and if these developments are linked to improvements in mathematics and metacognition. The intervention was implemented through a think-aloud method that utilized Metacognitive Thinking cards as visual cues. The intervention was delivered over an eight week period by grade one classroom teachers using a combination of instructional components consisting of modelling and independent practice. The purpose of this study was: (a) to investigate the degree to which children ages 6 to 7 exhibit signs of metacognitive knowledge in their mathematical learning, (b) to determine whether metacognitive skills can be fostered and enhanced through intervention activities, and (c) to examine the relationship between metacognition and mathematical performance for this age group.
Data was collected from 82 grade one students randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (a) treatment (n= 45), and (b) a comparison group (n=37). Data was collected at two time points from the four participating schools. Overall, results provide support that children aged 6-7 are capable of articulating metacognitive thoughts and these thoughts are increased with access to Metacognitive Thinking cards. However, the intervention did not demonstrate an improvement in either metacognition or mathematical abilities. Results also indicated that language abilities did not appear to be related to metacognition. Given these results, strengths and limitations of the study are considered and implications for practice and future research directions are discussed.