Improving Metacognitive Abilities as an Important Prerequisite for Self-regulated Learning in Preschool Children

Main Article Content

Lisa Dörr Franziska Perels


Metacognition is a crucial prerequisite for self-regulated learning and refers to the knowledge and the regulation of cognitive processes. Several authors argue that children at preschool age can use initial metacognitive control strategies and monitor their learning activities. This fact will create the conditions for promoting metacognitive activities at an early stage. The development of these activities at this age is influenced by several contextual factors, such as home or school environments. Essential caregivers exert a strong influence in terms of the development of metacognitive abilities. In view of this above 137 children participated in an intervention study aiming to improve metacognitive skills, along with their important caregivers such as parents and kindergarten teachers. Training concepts were designed that combined different kinds of interventions: a direct age-appropriate training of the preschoolers and two indirect interventions catered to parents and kindergarten teachers. The aim of this study was to analyze which training condition is more effective in improving metacognitive skills. We assumed that preschoolers who are consistently supported in their self-regulated learning in kindergarten and at home would benefit the most. Based on our data, we could partly confirm this hypothesis.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
DÖRR, Lisa; PERELS, Franziska. Improving Metacognitive Abilities as an Important Prerequisite for Self-regulated Learning in Preschool Children. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 5, p. 449-459, july 2019. ISSN 1307-9298. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 sep. 2020.


Alarcón-Rubio, D., Sánchez-Medina, J. A., & Prieto-García, J. R. (2014). Executive function and verbal self-regulation in childhood: Developmental linkages between partially internalized private speech and cognitive flexibility. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(2), 95-105.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.
Blair, C., & Razza, R.P. (2007). Relating effortful control, executive function and false belief understanding to emerging math and literacy ability in kindergarten. Child Development, 78, 647-663.
Boekaerts, M. (1999). Self-regulated learning: where we are today. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 445-457.
Brennan, R.L., & Prediger, D. J. (1981). Coefficient Kappa: Some Uses, misuses, and alternatives. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 41, 687-699.
Bronson, M. B. (2000). Self-regulation in early childhood. New York: The Guilford Press.
Bryce, D., & Whitebread, D. (2012). The development of metacognitive skills: evidence from observational analysis of young children’s behavior during problem-solving. Metacognition and Learning, 7, 197-217.
Bryce, D., Whitebread, D., & Szűcs, D. (2015). The relationships among executive functions, metacognitive skills and educational achievement in 5 and 7 year-old children. Metacognition and Learning, 10(2), 181-198.
Butler, D. L. (2004). Adults with learning disabilities. In B. Y. L., Wong (Ed.), Learning about learning disabilities (pp. 565-598). Toronto: Academic Press.
Butler, D. L., Perry, N. E., & Schnellert, L. (2017). Developing self-regulating learners. Toronto: Pearson Canada.
Butler, D. L., & Schnellert, L. (2012). Collaborative inquiry in teacher professional development. Teaching and teacher education, 28(8), 1206-1220.
Cohen, J. (1969). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral science. New York: Academic Press.
Corno, L. (2013). Volitional aspects of self-regulated learning. In B. J., Zimmerman & D. J., Schunk (Eds.), Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theoretical perspectives (pp. 188-221). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
De Corte, E., Mason, L., Depaepe, F., & Verschaffel, L. (2011). Self-regulation of mathematical knowledge and skills. In B. J., Zimmerman & D. H., Schunk (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (pp. 155–172). New York: Routledge.
De Corte, E., Verschaffel, L., & Op't Eynde, P. (2000). Self-regulation: A characteristic and a goal of mathematics education. In. M., Boekaerts, P. R., Pintrich, & M., Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation. (pp. 687-726). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
De Jager, B., Jansen, M., & Reezigt, G. (2005). The development of metacognition in primary school learning environments. School Effectiveness and School improvement, 16, 179-196.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self‐determination of behaviour. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227‐268.
Desoete, A. (2008). Multi-method assessment of metacognitive skills in elementary school children: How you test is what you get. Metacognition and Learning, 3(3), 189.
Desoete, A., Roeyers, H., & De Clercq, A. (2003). Can offline metacognition enhance mathematical problem solving? Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 188-200.
Diamond, A. (2016). Why improving and assessing executive functions early in life is critical. Executive function in preschool-age children. Integrating measurement, neurodevelopment, and translational research, 11-43.
Diaz, R. M., & Berk, L. E. (Eds.). (2014). Private speech: From social interaction to self-regulation. New York: Psychology Press.
Dignath, C., & Büttner, G. (2008). Components of fostering self-regulated learning among students. A meta-analysis on intervention studies at primary and secondary school level. Metacognition and Learning, 3, 231-264.
Dinsmore, D. L., Alexander, P. A., & Loughlin, S. M. (2008). Focusing the conceptual lens on metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 20, 391-409.
Dörrenbächer, L., & Perels, F. (2015). Volition completes the puzzle: Development and evaluation of an integrative trait model of self-regulated learning. Frontline Learning Research, 3(4), 14-36.
Dunn, K. E., Rakes, G. C., & Rakes, T. A. (2014). Influence of academic self-regulation, critical thinking, and age on online graduate students’ academic help-seeking. Distance Education, 35(1), 75-89.
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34, 906–911.
Flavell, J. H., Miller, P. H., & Miller, S. A. (2002). Cognitive development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Fleiss, J. L., & Cohen, J. (1973). The equivalence of weighted kappa and the intraclass correlation coefficient as measures of reliability. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 33(3), 613-619.
Freeman, E. E., Karayanidis, F., & Chalmers, K. A. (2017). Metacognitive monitoring of working memory performance and its relationship to academic achievement in Grade 4 children. Learning and Individual Differences, 57, 58-64.
Fthenakis, W. E. (2009). Bildung neu definieren und hohe Bildungsqualität von Anfang an sichern [Defining education in a new way and guaranteeing high educational standards from its beginnings]. Betrifft Kinder, 9(3), 7-10.
Fthenakis, W. E., Gisbert, K., Griebel, W., Kunze, H. R., Niesel, R., & Wustmann, C. (2007). Auf den Anfang kommt es an. Perspektiven für eine Neuorientierung frühkindlicher Bildung [What matters is the beginning. Perspectives for new orientation in early childhood education]. Bonn: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung.
Glaser, C., & Brunstein, J. C. (2007). Improving fourth-grade students' composition skills: Effects of strategy instruction and self-regulation procedures. Journal of educational psychology, 99(2), 297.
Greene, J. A., Deekens, V. M., Copeland, D.Z. & Yu, S. (2018). Capturing and Modeling Self-Regulated Learning Using Think-Aloud Protocols. In D.H., Schunk & J. A., Greene (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (2nd Ed.). (pp. 323-337). New York: Routledge.
Gwet, K. L. (2014). Handbook of inter-rater reliability: The definitive guide to measuring the extent of agreement among raters. Gaithersburg: Advanced Analytics.
Hattie, J., Biggs, J., & Purdie, N. (1996). Effects of learning skills Intervention on student learning: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66, 99-136.
Hendy, L., & Whitebread, D. (2000). Interpretations of Independent Learning in the Early Years. International Journal of Early Years Education, 8(3), 243-252.
Hidi, S., & Ainley, M. (2008). Interest and self-regulation: Relationships between two variables that influence learning. Motivation and self-regulated learning: Theory, research, and applications, 77-109.
Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1979). Problem solving processes in children´s construction and representations of closed railway circuits. Archives de Psychologie, 17, 33-39.
Keppel, G., & Wickens, T. D. (1991). Design and analysis: A researcher’s guide. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Labuhn, A. S., Zimmerman, B. J., & Hasselhorn, M. (2010). Enhancing students’ self-regulation and mathematics performance: the influence of feedback and self-evaluative standards. Metacognition and Learning, 5, 173-194.
Larkin, S. (2010). Metacognition in young children. London: Routledge.
Leidinger, M., & Perels, F. (2012). Training self-regulated learning in the classroom: Development and evaluation of learning materials to train self-regulated learning during regular mathematics lessons at primary school. Education Research International, 2012.
Livingston, J. A. (2003). Metacognition: An Overview.
Lüftenegger, M., Schober, B., van de Schoot, R., Wagner, P., Finsterwald, M., & Spiel, C. (2012). Lifelong learning as a goal - do autonomy and self-regulation in school result in well prepared pupils? Learning and Instruction, 22(1), 27-36.
Lund, B., Rheinberg, F., & Gladesch, U. (2001). Ein Elterntraining zum motivationsförderlichen Erziehungsverhalten in Leistungskontexten [Parental training for improving motivation and educational behaviour in performance contexts]. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 15(3/4), 130-143.
Martinez-Pons, M. (2002) Parental Influences on Children's Academic Self-Regulatory Development, Theory Into Practice, 41(2), 126-131.
Mazzoni, G., & Nelson, T. O. (Eds.). (2014). Metacognition and cognitive neuropsychology: Monitoring and control processes. New York: Psychology Press.
Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., ... Caspi, A. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 2693-2698.
Moss, P., Krenn-Wache, M., Na, J., & Bennett, J. (2004): Die Politik der frühkindlichen Betreuung, Bildung und Erziehung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Policies concerning early childhood mentoring and education in Germany]. Berlin: OECD.
Mulder, H., Hoofs, H., Verhagen, J., & Leseman, P.P.M. (2014). Psychometric properties, and convergent and predictive validity of an executive function test battery for two-year-olds. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 733.
Nelson, K. (1996). Language in cognitive development. Emergence of the mediated mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nelson, T. O. (1990). Metamemory: A theoretical framework and new findings. The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 26, 125–173.
Nelson, T. O., & Narens, L. (1990). Metamemory: A theoretical framework and new findings. In G. H., Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 125-173). New York: Academic Press.
Nelson, T. O., & Narens, L. (1994). Why investigate metacognition? In J., Metcalfe & A. P., Shimamura (Eds.), Metacognition: Knowing about knowing (pp. 1–25). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Perels, F., Gürtler, T., & Schmitz, B. (2005). Training of self-regulatory and problem-solving competence. Learning and instruction, 15(2), 123-139.
Perels, F., Dignath, C., & Schmitz, B. (2009). Is it possible to improve mathematical achievement by means of self-regulation strategies? Evaluation of an intervention in regular math classes. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 24, 17-32.
Perels, F., Merget-Kullmann, M., Wende, M., Schmitz, B., & Buchbinder C. (2009). Improving self-regulated learning of preschool children: Evaluation of training for kindergarten teachers. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, 311-327.
Perry, N.E., Hutchinson, L., Yee, N., & Määttä, M. (2018). Advances in understanding young children`s self-regulation for learning. In. D.H., Schunk & J. A., Greene (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (2nd Ed.). (pp. 457–472). New York: Routledge.
Pintrich, P.R. (2000). The role of goal orientation in self-regulated learning. In: M., Boekarts, P.R., Pintrich & M., Zeidner (Eds.). Handbook of Self-Regulation (pp.451-502). San Diego: Academic Press.
Pintrich, P. R., Wolters, C., & Baxter, G. (2000). Assessing metacognition and self-regulated learning. In G., Schraw, & J., Impara (Eds.), Issues in the Measurement of Metacognition (pp.43-97), Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.
Pramling, I. (1990). Learning to learn. A study of Swedish preschool children. New York: Springer.
Pramling, I. (1996). Understanding and empowering the child as a learner. In: D.R., Olson & N., Torrance (Eds.), The handbook of education and human development (pp. 565-592). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Pressley, M., Johnson, C. J., Symons, S., McGoldrick, J. A., & Kurita, J. A. (1989). Strategies that improve children's memory and comprehension of text. The Elementary School Journal, 90(1), 3-32.
Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Curby, T. W., Grimm, K. J., Nathanson, L., & Brock, L. L. (2009). The contribution of children’s self-regulation and classroom quality to children’s adaptive behaviors in the kindergarten classroom. Developmental psychology, 45(4), 958.
Schmidt, M., & Otto, B. (2010). Direkte und indirekte Interventionen [Direct and indirect interventions]. In T., Hascher & B., Schmitz (Eds.). Pädagogische Interventionen. Theoretische Grundlagen und empirisches Handlungswissen (pp. 235-242). Weinheim: Juventa.
Schneider, W., & Lockl, K. (2006). Entwicklung metakognitiver Kompetenzen im Kindes-und Jugendalter [The development of metacognitive competences in the age of children and adolescents]. In W., Schneider & B., Sodian, Enzyklopädie der Psychologie, Themenbereich C: Theorie und Forschung, Serie V: Entwicklungspsychologie. (pp.721-769). Göttingen: Hogrefe.
Souvignier, E., & Mokhlesgerami, J. (2006). Using self-regulation as a framework for implementing strategy-instruction to foster reading comprehension. Learning & Instruction, 16, 57-71.
Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I. & Taggart, B. (2004). The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) Project: Findings from pre-school to end of key stage 1. Nottingham, UK: Department for Education and Skills.
Turner, J. C. (1995). The influence of classroom context on young children’s motivation for literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 39, 410-441.
Usher, E. L., & Schunk, D. H. (2018). A social cognitive theoretical perspective of self-regulation. In. D.H., Schunk & J. A., Greene (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (2nd Ed.). (pp. 19-35). New York: Routledge.
van der Stel, M., & Veenman, M. V. (2014). Metacognitive skills and intellectual ability of young adolescents: A longitudinal study from a developmental perspective. European journal of psychology of education, 29(1), 117-137.
Veenman, M. V. J. (2013). Assessing metacognitive skills in computerized learning environments. In R., Azevedo & V., Aleven (Eds.), International Handbook of Metacognition and Learning Technologies (pp.157-168). New York: Springer.
Veenman, M.V. J., Prins, F. J., & Verheij, J. (2003). Learning styles: Self‐reports versus thinking‐aloud measures. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 73(3), 357-372.
Veenman, M. V. J., & Spaans, M. A. (2005). Relation between intellectual and metacognitive skills: Age and task differences. Learning and Individual Differences, 15, 159-176.
Veenman, M. V. J., Van Hout-Wolters, & Afflerbach, P. (2006). Metacognition and Learning: conceptual and methodological considerations. Metacognition and Learning, 1, 3-14.
Venitz, L., & Perels, F. (2018). Promoting self-regulated learning of preschoolers through indirect intervention: a two-level approach. Early Child Development and Care, 1-14.
Vernon-Feagans, L., Willoughby, M., & Garrett-Peters, P. (2016). Predictors of behavioral regulation in kindergarten: Household chaos, parenting, and early executive functions. Developmental psychology, 52(3), 430.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between 1earning and development. In Mind and Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Winne P. H. (2001). Self-regulated learning viewed from models of information processing, In B. J., Zimmerman & D. H., Schunk (Eds.), Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theoretical perspectives (2nd ed.) (pp. 153–189). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Winne, P. H. (2018). Cognition and metacognition within self-regulated learning In. D.H., Schunk & J. A., Greene (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (2nd Ed.). (pp. 52-64). New York: Routledge.
Winne, P. H. & Hadwin, A. F. (1998). Studying as self-regulated learning. In D. J., Hacker, J., Dunlosky & A. C., Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in educational theory and practice (pp. 277-304). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Winne, P. H., & Perry, N. E. (2000). Measuring self-regulated learning. In M., Boekaerts, P.R., Pintrich & M., Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation. (pp. 531-566). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Winne, P., & Hadwin, A. (2008). The weave of motivation and self-regulated learning. In D.H., Schunk & B. J., Zimmerman (Eds.), Motivation and self-regulated learning: Theory, research, and applications (pp. 297–314). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Whitebread, D. (2012). Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Whitebread, D., Anderson, H., Coltman, P., Page, C., Pino Pasternak, D., & Mehta, S. (2005). Developing independent learning in the early years. Education, 3-13, 33, 40-50.
Whitebread, D., Coltman, P., Pino Pasternak, D., Sangster, C., Grau, V., Bingham, S., … Demetriou, D. (2009). The development of two observational tools for assessing metacognition and self-regulated learning in young children. Metacognition and Learning, 4, 63-85.
Zimmerman, B. J. (1989). A social cognitive view of self-regulated academic learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 329-339.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In M., Boekaerts, P.R., Pintrich & M., Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation. (pp. 13-39). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2001). Theories of self-regulated learning and academic achievement: an overview and analysis. In B. J., Zimmerman, & D. H., Schunk (Eds.), Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: theoretical perspectives (2nd ed.) (pp. 1–38). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2013). Theories of self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview and analysis. In Self-regulated learning and academic achievement (pp. 10-45). New York: Routledge.