Examining Change in Metacognitive Knowledge and Metacognitive Control During Motor Learning: What Can be Learned by Combining Methodological Approaches?


  • Claire Sangster Jokić Zagreb, Croatia
  • David Whitebread Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


metacognition, motor learning, multiple methods, developmental coordination disorder


Growing recognition of the importance of understanding metacognitive behaviour as it occurs in everyday learning situations has prompted an expansion of the methodological approaches used to examine metacognition. This becomes especially pertinent when examining the process of metacognitive change, where 'on-line' observational approaches able to capture metacognitive performance as it occurs during socially-mediated learning are being increasingly applied. This study applied a mixed methods approach to examine children's metacognitive performance as it was exhibited during participation in an intervention program aimed at addressing motor performance difficulties. Participants in the study were ten 7-9 year old children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD), a condition characterized by poor motor coordination and difficulty acquiring motor-based tasks. All participants engaged in a 10-session program in which children were taught to use a problem-solving strategy for addressing motor performance difficulties. To examine children's metacognitive performance, sessions were video-taped and subsequently analysed using a quantitative observational coding method and an in-depth qualitative review of therapist-child interactions. This allowed for a fine-grained analysis of children's demonstration of metacognitive knowledge and control and how such performance evolved over the course of the program. Of particular interest was the finding that while children were often able to express task-specific knowledge, they failed to apply this knowledge during practice. Conversely, children were often able to demonstrate performance-based evidence for metacognitive control but were not able to make conscious reports of such skill following practice. This finding is consistent with models of metacognitive development which suggest that the emergence of performance-based metacognitive skills precede the ability for the conscious expression of metacognitive awareness and knowledge. Furthermore, it supports the use of multiple methods for examining metacognitive performance and change in the context of a meaningful learning situation.