Date of this Version
Published in Issues in the Measurement of Metacognition, ed. Gregory Schraw & James C. Impara (Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, 2000).
The measurement of metacognition has gone through four overlapping phases: The first phase began with the insightful and stimulating paper of Kreutzer, Leonard, and Flavell (1975) on introspective reports about memory states and processes, followed by an important theoretical chapter on the nature of metamemory (Flavell & Wellman,1977). These early contributions documented, and theoretically clarified, the fact that children could accurately report their knowledge about memory events as they related to a variety of tasks, circumstances, and strategies; furthermore, memory knowledge was shown to be age-related. A second phase quickly followed: The intention here was to show interconnections between memory knowledge and memory performance. Although hindsight now reveals that a modest relationship (r = .42) links metamemory and memory across a wide range of learning contexts (Schneider & Bjorkland in press), an uncomfortable feeling about the "fuzziness" of the concept prevailed during this second stage of research (Wellman, 1983). From our vantage point, three interrelated conceptual and methodological problems surfaced that hindered the search for reliable and valid measures of metacognition-problems that continue to influence contemporary research and theory development:
1. Lack of dear definitions for each metacognitive construct (especially about when, where, and to whom a construct applies).
2. Lack of an array of well-analyzed tasks that permit the separation of process and performance measurements.
3. Lack of a variety of measures that converge on a given construct from multiple directions.
The third and fourth waves of research-which dominate the majority of present day studies on metacognition-focus on the issues of monitoring and control (which we refer to as executive functioning) and their associations with a variety of motivation variables. This research has been inspired, in large part, by the enthusiasm for metacognition theory, and its instructional implications for the educational reform movement. It is not surprising that current research on metacognition is more commonly found in educational psychology than in developmental psychology.