Using stories to facilitate the development of metacognitive awareness of young learners in the Intermediate Phase

Van Aswegen, Suzanne Laetitia (2015-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A fundamental goal of education is to promote the development of self-regulated learning. Although the importance of metacognition has been established by various researchers, metacognitive knowledge and strategies are seldom explicated in schools, and especially in the early years of education. This design-based research study presents the findings of an intervention aimed at developing metacognitive awareness among early Intermediate Phase learners. Self-reflection, the language of thinking and metacomprehension strategy use in the content areas were modelled using storytelling. The aim of the intervention was twofold: Firstly, at the design level, the main objective was to develop and refine a learner-centred intervention in the form of a series of stories engaging learners in learning about and reflecting on themselves as learners and how they learn. Secondly, at the practice level, the main aim was to assess the feasibility and influence of the intervention on learner self-knowledge, metacognitive strategy awareness and comprehension performance. The research was conducted among two intact Grade 4 class groups, along with their teachers from two public schools that differed in terms of socioeconomic context. The study comprised iterative cycles of design, implementation, analysis and review. A case study research methodology was employed and a pragmatic paradigm supported the use of a mixed-methods, non-experimental design. During the second iteration pre- and post-intervention data gained from metacognitive strategy awareness questionnaires, focus group interviews, self-reflective tasks and reading comprehension tests, were compared. The primary contribution of this research study is the set of design principles accompanying the conceptualised intervention, providing insight into the function and key characteristics of the story-based intervention, as well as the procedural conditions guiding implementation. The results obtained were encouraging, with most learners showing a marked improvement in terms of metacognitive awareness on most measuring instruments. The questionnaire testing learners’ knowledge of metacomprehension strategies, for instance, revealed an improvement after the intervention of between 41 and 94%. The data gathered by means of the qualitative measures, however, indicated that the learners in both groups particularly struggled to verbalise their thoughts. Even after the intervention, only a slight improvement in terms of frequency of metacognitive elements mentioned was noticed, although the variety increased. In the school that serves a very poor community, low literacy rates had a significant impact on both data collection and the outcome of the intervention. The results clearly show a correlation between reading ability and overall scholastic performance. Those learners struggling with reading comprehension also seem to struggle to develop effective metacognitive learning strategies such as self-questioning, summarising and applying fix-up strategies. From the study it is clear that the story-based intervention is a feasible and effective learning tool to develop metacognitive awareness, within the context described in the present study. Strengths and limitations are discussed, and future prospects that could result from the study are considered.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ʼn Grondliggende doelwit van onderwys is die bevordering van die ontwikkeling van selfgereguleerde leer. Alhoewel die belangrikheid van metakognisie deur verskeie navorsers bevestig is, word metakognitiewe kennis en strategieë selde eksplisiet in skole ontwikkel, veral in die vroeë onderrigjare. Hierdie ontwerpgebaseerde navorsingstudie bied die bevindinge van ʼn intervensie gemik op die ontwikkeling van metakognitiewe bewustheid onder leerders in die vroeë Intermediêre Fase. Selfbesinning, die taal van denke en die gebruik van metabegripstrategieë in die inhoudsareas is aan die hand van storievertelling gemoduleer. Die doel van die intervensie was tweeledig: Eerstens, op ontwerpvlak, was die hoofdoel om ʼn leerdergesentreerde intervensie in die vorm ʼn reeks stories te ontwikkel en te verfyn. Hierdie stories moedig leerders aan om meer te leer van hulself as leerders asook van die manier waarop hulle leer, en om daaroor te besin. Tweedens, op die praktiese vlak, was die hoofdoel om die uitvoerbaarheid en invloed van die intervensie op leerders se selfkennis, bewustheid van metakognitiewe strategieë en begripsprestasie te assesseer. Die navorsing is uitgevoer onder twee volledige graad 4-klasgroepe en hul onderwysers van twee publieke skole wat met betrekking tot sosio-ekonomiese konteks verskil. Die studie het bestaan uit iteratiewe siklusse van ontwerp, implementering, ontleding en evaluering. ʼn Gevallestudienavorsingsmetodologie is ingespan en ʼn pragmatiese paradigma het die gebruik van ‘n nieeksperimentele ontwerp, met sowel kwalitatiewe as kwantitatiewe metodes ondersteun. Gedurende die tweede siklus is die data wat voor en na die intervensie met behulp van vraelyste oor bewustheid van metakognitiewe strategieë, fokusgroeponderhoude, selfbesinningstake en leesbegripstoetse ingesamel is, vergelyk. Die vernaamste bydrae van hierdie studie is die stel ontwerpbeginsels wat met die gekonseptualiseerde intervensie gepaard gaan, wat insig bied in die funksie en hoofeienskappe van die storiegebaseerde intervensie, asook die prosedurele toestande wat implementering rig. Die resultate van die studie is baie bemoedigend, aangesien die meeste leerders ʼn duidelike verbetering met betrekking tot metakognitiewe bewustheid aan die hand van die meerderheid meetinstrumente getoon het. Die vraelys wat die leerders se kennis van metabegripstrategieë toets, het byvoorbeeld ʼn verbetering van tussen 41 en 94% ná die intervensie getoon. Die data wat met behulp van die kwalitatiewe metodes gegenereer is, het egter getoon dat die leerders in albei groepe veral gesukkel het om hul gedagtes te verbaliseer. Selfs ná die intervensie is slegs ʼn geringe verbetering met betrekking tot frekwensie van die betrokke metakognitiewe elemente opgemerk, alhoewel die verskeidenheid toegeneem het. In die skool wat ʼn behoeftige gemeenskap bedien, het lae geletterdheidsvlakke ʼn aanmerklike impak op sowel data-insameling as die uitkoms van die intervensie gehad. Die resultate toon ʼn duidelike korrelasie tussen leesvermoë en algehele akademiese prestasie. Die leerders wat met leesbegrip sukkel, blyk ook te sukkel om doeltreffende metakognitiewe leerstrategieë soos selfondervraging, opsomming en toepassing van herstelstrategieë te ontwikkel. Op grond van die studie is dit duidelik dat die storiegebaseerde intervensie ʼn uitvoerbare en doeltreffende instrument is om metakognitiewe bewustheid, in die konteks wat in die studie beskryf is, te ontwikkel. Die sterk punte en beperkinge van die studie word bespreek, asook toekomstige ondersoeke wat uit die studie kan spruit.

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