Buros-Nebraska Series on Measurement and Testing


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Published in Issues in the Measurement of Metacognition, ed. Gregory Schraw & James C. Impara (Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, 2000).


Copyright © 2000 Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Digital Edition Copyright © 2012 Buros Center for Testing.


It has been about 25 years now since researchers first became interested in the study of metacognition, with the onset of interest marked by the publication of the 1975 metamemory interview study of Kreutzer, Leonard, and Flavell and the seminal theoretical work of John Flavell (1976) and Ann Brown (1978). The early work by developmental psychologists on age-related differences in children's metacognition captured the attention of researchers concerned with individual differences in academic achievement in children as well as adults. Within academic domains, most of the research has been focused on reading and studying (Baker & Brown, 1984; Forrest Pressley & Waller, 1984; Garner, 1987; Paris, Wasik, & Turner, 1991), but mathematics (Van Haneghan & Baker, 1989), writing (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1985), and science (Baker, 1991) have also received attention. The consistent finding has been that students who are more successful in a domain exhibit higher levels of meta cognitive knowledge about the domain and are more skilled at regulating their cognitive processes.

Clearly, the construct of metacognition has had wide appeal and wide applicability, stimulating a great deal of research across a broad spectrum of psychological problems and issues, as well as a growing amount of intervention work in classrooms. In a 1994 review paper on social influences on metacognitive development, Baker wrote, "The popular appeal of metacognition has led to the widespread adoption and somewhat uncritical acceptance of the construct among educators. This situation is obviously problematic from a scientific standpoint and makes clear the need for further basic research on how metacognition develops, the role of metacognition in cognitive development, and how metacognition may best be fostered" (pp. 202-203). The concern about uncritical acceptance is no less apt with regard to measurement; let us therefore amend the final sentence to end with and measured.

In this chapter, we address the issue of metacognitive assessment first by examining methods of measuring metacognition used in empirical research, including questionnaires, interviews, think-aloud procedures, error-detection procedures, and various on-line measures. We then examine some of the instruments that have been subjected to tests of reliability and validity by independent investigators; their numbers are few. Next we consider recommendations for assessing metacognition that are published in books and journals for teachers and school psychologists; their numbers are many. Throughout, primary emphasis is on metacognition as it relates to reading and studying, but some reference is made to assessment of meta cognition in other domains as well (e.g., metamemory, problem solving).