This paper conducts a review of two articles on education, namely: “Metacognition needed: Teaching middle and high school students to develop strategic learning skills” in Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth by Nancy Joseph and “Questioning as thinking: A metacognitive framework to improve comprehension of expository text” in Literacy by Nance Wilson and Linda Smetana.
I begin with the article by Nancy Joseph, “Metacognition needed: Teaching middle and high school students to develop strategic learning skills”. Joseph essentially makes the case that the reason for ineffective learning strategies and poor learning among students is attributable to lack of, or poor metacognition. Poor metacognition is described as the lack of the ability by learners to figure out the much needed requiring skills to enable them overcome academic challenges. She draws on research that has been conducted showing that there is a positive impact of self-reflective learning on the understanding of students. Metacognition simply stated, is the knowledge as well as the experiences that a student has about their own cognitive processes. This experiences and knowledge are only possible if a learner does engage in self-reflection upon learning. Joseph explores the twin issues of whether there is a positive impact of self-reflective learning on students and whether metacognition awareness can be taught as advanced by some researchers. Towards the end, the author advances the argument that the high school teachers can make use of these strategies in aiding their students develop these essential metacognition skills (Nancy, 2009).
The article “Questioning as thinking: A metacognitive framework to improve comprehension of expository text” by Nance Wilson and Linda Smetana builds on the suggestions made by the first article in enabling students develop metacognitive skills. It begins by making the case that though there have been efforts to ensure that learners do reflect, refine and extend their learning through effective questioning strategies, there is evidence pointing to the fact that the teacher still dominates classroom interaction. The paper seeks to offer an alternative to resolve this conundrum by arguing that the Initiate, Respond and Evaluate Process that is currently employed causes learners to take a passive stance and, therefore, fail to engage with the text. In its place, the article advocates for more effective and active instructional pattern that avails opportunities to students to engage with the text. This it hopes to do through the Question as Thinking framework that will provide the teachers with tools that will assist students to reflect on their learning and better engage expository text. The central idea in the article is the description of a framework for questioning that is designed towards the aforementioned end. The Question as Thinking draws upon the language of Question Answer Relationships alongside the Thinking Aloud strategy (Wilson & Smetana, 2011). The distinction between this strategy and the others is that a student asks questions before reading, during reading and even after reading by using the Question Answer Relationships language and the think aloud strategy. This strategy seeks to engage learners in both social and cognitive practices that enhance reading from various texts both inside and outside school. This framework supports students in the development of metacognitive skills by taking away the teacher-dominated pattern. The article describes the QAT framework and makes suggestions of its' application in the classroom to have the desired effect. It begins with the valid proposition that there is increased and effective learning in a social context (Wilson & Smetana, 2011). It is true that an interactive and participatory environment is central to the development of essential literacy skills since students are usually active learners. To put it bluntly, the discourse and the interaction between teacher and student allows for the development of knowledge since ideas are usually built and modeled together while learning. In the traditional form of teaching, a teacher calls on a student who then shares and the teacher makes comments on the response of the student. Most of the time, and indeed virtually all the time, it is the teacher who dominates, governs the talk and judges the response of the student in such a setting. However, within the QAT framework, though a conversation may start with the teacher, it usually proceeds from student to another before the teacher responds. Further, even when a teacher responds in the process, he does not do so with the purpose of evaluating but that of addition or clarification. Such a process enables the students to be self-regulated and reflective thus enhancing learning (Wilson & Smetana, 2011).
Methodological challenges of the study
The argument put forth by Nancy Joseph in her article is impressive in as far as it seeks to show the need for students to engage in metacognitive strategies. She argues that through her experience, it is the case that many students do not make use of metacognitive knowledge and this is the cause of shortsighted ability and inability to comprehend literature. She encourages students to allow enough time for reflecting on their work. Wilson and Smetana put forth a similar argument with an emphasis on the Question as Thinking Framework. Much as their arguments may be merited, the studies lose face methodological weaknesses that have the ability of invalidating some of the findings and outcomes of the studies. The QAT framework that was used in the study is a recent transactional strategy that requires rigorous training as well as experience if it is to be used in an efficient manner. However, the questions posed and the whole conduct of the study reveals that the teacher asking the questions was not much experienced as evident in the strictly procedural think-alouds. Further, this inexperience and lack of training in this transactional strategy was evident in the inability to link the various strategies together. It is this thus of critical importance that a teacher making use of this strategy be metacognitive themselves and have a good understanding of the same before applying the same instruction. More so, the study fails to recognize the fact that the sample for the tests could have validity threats. In ordinary circumstances, most human beings are usually reactionary towards experiments and this situation was not any unique. Consequently, it is the case that some unmotivated students may have reacted negatively to the metacognitive instruction thus leading the researcher to get inaccurate results.
In conclusion, the paper makes the argument that, in learning of content, students can no longer afford to continue being passive. The QAT framework enables students to engage deeply with expository text and understand whatever it is they are reading. It provides for the development of a common language for metacognition and the learning process thus enabling students to become metacognitive, engaged and empowered and increasingly self-directed in their learning (Wilson & Smetana, 2011).
Nancy, J. (2009). Metacognition needed: Teaching middle and high school students to develop strategic learning skills. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 54(2), , 99-103.
Wilson, N. S., & Smetana, L. (2011). Questioning as thinking: A metacognitive framework to improve comprehension of expository text. Literacy(45)2 , 84-90.