Assessing Developmental Differences inMetacognitive Skills With Computer Logfiles: Gender by Age Interactions


  • Marcel V.J. Veenman Institute for Metacognition Research, Hillegom, The Netherlands
  • Rob D. Hesselink Honours Academy, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Shannon Sleeuwaegen Honours Academy, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Sophie I.E. Liem Honours Academy, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Marieke G.P. Van Haaren Honours Academy, Leiden University, The Netherlands


metacognitive skills, development, gender, logfile assessment


Metacognitive skills regulate and control learning processes. A developmental study (Van der Stel & Veenman, 2014) revealed that metacognitive growth is interrupted at the age of 14-15 years, while metacognitive skills are generalized over tasks and domains at the same time. The present study seeks to confirm this pause or decline in metacognitive growth, however, with a gender-age interaction. Females are expected to run one year ahead of males in metacognitive development. Additionally, the usefulness of computer-logfile analysis as an unobtrusive method for assessing metacognitive development is investigated. A hundred and nineteen secondary-school students (66 male; 53 female) at the age of 13 to 16 years performed a computerized inductive-learning task. Traces of learner activities were stored in logfiles and automatically scored on metacognitive skills. Afterwards, participants completed a learning posttest. Results substantiate the expected gender-age interaction in the metacognition data. Females started low at 14 years, recovered at 15 years, and peaked at 16 years, whereas males started positive at 14 years, declined at 15 years, and recovered at 16 years. Posttest data show a significant effect of age with improved learning performance at 16 years. Implications for the study of metacognitive development are discussed.