Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Effects of keyword generation and peer collaboration on metacomprehension accuracy in middle school students

Pao, Lisa S.

Metacomprehension refers to the ability to judge one's own comprehension. Studies in the literature have shown that generating keywords after reading helps adults and children make comprehension judgments that are better correlated with their actual comprehension. Researchers have also found that when metacomprehension is framed in terms of confidence, there is an effect of ability, where individuals with low ability tend to be overconfident in their judgments, while those with high ability tend to be underconfident. This paper describes two experiments investigating metacomprehension in seventh graders. Experiment 1 sought to replicate and extend the finding that generating keywords after reading improves the accuracy of comprehension judgments and the effectiveness of study choices. To account for potential effects of time on task, participants in the control condition were asked to read passages twice in lieu of generating keywords. Two measures of metacomprehension accuracy (signed differences and gamma correlations) were based on comprehension judgments taken at two time points (pre-test and post-test). The moderating effects of reading ability were also examined. The results of Experiment 1 showed that participants were overconfident in their judgments of their own comprehension. Overconfidence was greater for pre-test predictions than for post-test reflections, and it was also greater for participants with lower reading ability. Generating keywords caused participants to become significantly less overconfident- or more accurate- from pre-test to post-test in their comprehension judgments, but it did not actually boost comprehension scores. In other words, generating keywords helped participants know that they did not know; it did not, however, help them know more. In Experiment 2, the investigation of generating keywords and rereading text was situated within a new context incorporating practice test questions. Studies have shown that practice testing is an effective study strategy. Additionally, since researchers have found that learners can use information about peer performance as a basis for making judgments about themselves, Experiment 2 also asked whether peer collaboration might increase metacomprehension accuracy. Participants were randomly assigned to four conditions: individual/keyword, individual/reread, collaborate/keyword, and collaborate/reread. All participants answered practice test questions; participants in the individual conditions worked on the questions alone, while participants in the collaborative conditions discussed the questions with a partner. As in Experiment 1, participants in Experiment 2 were also overconfident in judging their own comprehension. Again, there was an effect for time of judgment, such that predictions were more overconfident than were reflections. Surprisingly, peer collaboration was found to lead to greater overconfidence in comprehension judgments. Participants who collaborated with a peer were more overconfident than participants who worked alone. Experiment 2 showed that in the presence of practice testing and peer collaboration, the interactive effect of keyword generation and time of judgment was minimized. Within the keyword group, participants who collaborated and participants who worked alone did not differ in overconfidence. Within the reread group, however, participants who collaborated were significantly more overconfident than those who worked alone. Taken together, these two studies suggest that middle school students are generally overconfident in their judgments of comprehension. However, the results indicate that study strategies designed to enhance comprehension and learning can be effective in reducing students' overconfidence about themselves.


  • thumnail for Pao_columbia_0054D_11894.pdf Pao_columbia_0054D_11894.pdf application/pdf 1.63 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Williams, Joanna P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 13, 2014
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.