Significance of metacognitive regulation in collaborative science learning across contexts: Comparison of low- and high-outcome groups

Year: 2019

Author: Iiskala, Tuike, Volet, Simone, Jones, Cheryl, Koretsky, Milo, Vauras, Marja

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The aim of this study is to investigate the role of metacognitive regulation (MR), particularly the social forms of MR in collaborative science learning, across different contexts. Whilst research has shown that different forms of MR exist in collaborative learning, their role in learning outcomes remains unexplored. Moreover, evidence shows that MR can focus on low- or high-level cognitive activities, and focusing on high-level activities contributes to high-level learning outcomes. Based on this, the research questions were as follows: 1) To what extent do low- and high-outcome groups metacognitively regulate their collaborative science learning process across contexts? 2) Do low- and high-outcome groups show differences in social forms of MR when interacting at a high versus low cognitive level?

The participants were senior high school students (Finland), second year university veterinary science students (Australia) and fourth year university engineering students (USA). From each context, one low- and one high-outcome group were selected. In all contexts, the groups worked on a collaborative science learning activity towards the production of a tangible outcome, and all activities posed new challenges to the groups. Transcribed video and audio recordings of the groups’ verbal interactions for two distinct interaction segments of the overall task formed the basis of the analyses. First, cognitive activity was analyzed (low and high levels). Second, different forms of MR were analyzed (verbalized metacognitive self-regulation, ignored MR, metacognitive other regulation [MOR] and socially shared metacognitive regulation [SSMR]). Descriptive analyses and logistic regression were used to analyze the data.

The results indicated that 1) In the high school and veterinary science contexts, the high-outcome groups exhibited a higher MR frequency than the low-outcome groups did. However, in the engineering context, the high-outcome group exhibited a lower MR frequency than the low-outcome group did. The differences were significant both across context and outcome levels. 2) Across all contexts, the percentage of social forms of MR (MOR, SSMR) of the groups operating at a high cognitive level was significantly greater than when that same groups operated at a low cognitive level. For both SSMR and MOR, the differences across contexts and levels of cognitive activity were significant. However, in both cases, the outcome level was not significant. Thus, the findings of one collaborative context cannot be directly transferred to another context. In the future, experimental designs would be valuable to provide further information on the differences between contexts.