The effect of concrete supplements on metacognitive regulation during learning and open-book test taking

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Abstract

Background.

Previous studies have suggested that when reading texts, lower achievers are more sensitive than their stronger counterparts to surface-level cues, such as graphic illustrations, and that even when uninformative, such concrete supplements tend to raise the text's subjective comprehensibility.

Aims.

We examined how being led astray by uninformative concrete supplements in expository texts affects achievement. We focused on the mediating role of metacognitive processes by partialling out the role of cognitive ability, as indicated by SAT scores, in accounting for the found differences between higher and lower achievers.

Sample and method.

Undergraduate students studied expository texts in their base versions or in concrete versions, including uninformative supplements, in a within-participant design. The procedure had three phases: Studying, open-book test taking, and reanswering questions of one's choice.

Results.

Overall, judgements of comprehension (JCOMPs) were higher after participants studied the concrete than the base versions, and the participants benefited from the open-book test and the reanswering opportunity. An in-depth examination of time investment, JCOMP, confidence in test answers, choice of questions to reanswer, and test scores indicated that those whose metacognitive processes were more effective and goal driven achieved higher scores.

Conclusions.

The effectiveness of metacognitive processes during learning and test taking constitutes an important factor differentiating between higher and lower achievers when studying texts that include potentially misleading cues.

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