The role of metacognition in the success of reading and writing tasks across cultures

  • Awarded to: Dr Li Li
  • Co-investigators: Dr Shirley Larkin
  • Funding Awarded to Exeter: £ 12,289
  • Dates: 1 January 2016 - 31 December 2016
  • Sponsor(s): British Council

There are individual differences between students’ ways of learning which may impact on their success in responding to the challenge of learning a foreign language. Whilst some students are self regulating and self directing, others may understand their own strengths and weaknesses but be unable to make use of this knowledge to increase their success rate and yet others will lack this level of self awareness and ability to take control of their own learning. The concept of metacognition, which can be defined as the ability to understand, reflect on and control one’s own thinking and learning, is known to be important for academic success across a range of subject areas. However, there is little understanding of the role of metacognition within TESOL research. This project seeks to fill that gap by comparing the metacognitive awareness of successful and less successful EFL learners in different educational, cultural and social contexts and to explore the similarities and differences between these two groups. The study adopts a two-phase design, with the first stage being an exploratory cross-sectional design and the follow-up being a case study. Approximately 500 EFL students studying from different countries and areas will complete the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) (Schraw and Dennison, 1994) and provide demographic data, including length of learning experience and self-perceived proficiency level. Correlational analysis will explore links between success as measured by grade point average, metacognitive awareness as measured by MAI and other contextual variables. Then 10 students (5 successful and 5 less successful) from each of the four contexts will be recruited to carry out a think-aloud protocol and retrospective interview. The project will have implications for second language teaching and learning.