Social Perspective Taking and Metacognition of Children: A Longitudinal View Across the Fifth Grade of School

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Social perspective taking (SPT) is understanding the social situation of another person. SPT helps us to communicate effectively and to foster social bonds, both of which are skill sets that youths need to succeed at school and in life. SPT has been associated with reading experience (RE), but there has been little research on the factors that support SPT at school. SPT involves understanding the fictional characters described in a text. Metacognitive strategies (MCSs) taught in class help students comprehend a text. Our aims were, therefore, to investigate the interrelations between these concepts and to test whether variance in SPT is indirectly explained by RE with books via using MCSs during in-class reading activities. In the current study, N = 2,105 fifth-grade students’ SPT, RE and MCSs were measured 3 times over 1 year of school. The sample consisted of students at all-day schools with a focus on social learning and reading from a nationally representative study. The results indicate interrelations between these concepts over time and the postulated indirect effect. Variance in SPT was partially explained by the MCSs, variance in that was in turn explained by RE assessed 5 months before. This suggests that teaching MCSs provides a way to support students’ SPT when reading texts with fictional characters and when students have experience in reading.

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