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Metacognition, Cognitive Strategy Instruction, and Reading in Adult Literacy

Volume 5: Chapter Seven
Jennifer G. Cromley

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In Chapter Seven, Jennifer Cromley reviews the theories and key resources related to metacognitive skills in reading. She first discusses the role of metacognition in reading, presenting what is known about the ability to monitor one’s own thinking during reading (metacognitive monitoring). She offers potential causes of low monitoring, including poor decoding, limited background knowledge, low vocabulary, dysfunctional beliefs about reading, low strategy use, working memory issues, and motivational barriers. Cromley next reviews research from both K-12 and adult education designed to measure metacognitive monitoring during reading, highlighting the multiple ways in which the issue has been approached by researchers. She also notes a number of strategies used by readers to remedy their lack of comprehension (e.g., re-reading, using a dictionary, asking others for help, reading an additional text).

In the next section, Cromley summarizes the conclusions of the National Reading Panel and others regarding what constitutes effective cognitive strategy instruction, which can help readers improve their monitoring, and thus, their comprehension. She presents a set of guidelines for effectively teaching strategies, which include explaining to students why using a strategy will improve their learning, demonstrating how and when to use the strategy, and debriefing with students on the utility of the strategy. Cromley ends the chapter by noting the need for adult literacy practitioners to know what strategies are effective in developing metacognition, as well as how to teach them. She recommends training, planning time, and additional materials to support teachers in this endeavor.

Among her ideas for future research, she includes exploring the stages of literacy development at which adults will most benefit from strategy instruction and understanding how much strategy instruction is necessary to improve comprehension. Finally, she calls for policies that provide funding to support practitioner training in strategy instruction and foster high-quality research in metacognition and strategy instruction for adult literacy students.

 Appendix to Chapter 7  arrow

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL