Does Implicit Metacognition Provide a Tool for Self-Guided Learning in Preschool Children?
AuthorBalcomb, Frances Katherine
Committee ChairGerken, LouAnn
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe study of developmental metacognition was originally proposed as a way to better understand memory, by elucidating the processes that act upon and therefore affect it. Much research has been conducted to examine the nature of metacognitive processes, and the interaction between metacognitive judgments and learning behavior in adults. Developmental research has demonstrated that there is a strong developmental trend, such that metacognitive abilities emerge at age four years at the earliest and mature until adulthood. However, this estimate raises a potential paradox, given young children's excellent learning abilities, if monitoring and differentially responding to changes in internal states of knowledge is an important component of learning. This dissertation proposes that metacognitive processes, like memory-monitoring, rather than being distinct from and externally operating on core cognitive process, may be intrinsically linked to basic cognitive functions, arising naturally as a result of processing. By this account, metacognitive abilities emerge in implicit form early in development along with other developing cognitive functions like memory, and what is observed later as the emergence of metacognition may rather be the transition from an implicit and undifferentiated process to an explicit and more readily testable process. This dissertation presents six experiments exploring the relationship between memory-monitoring in non-human animals, preschool children, and adults, using a non-verbal paradigm adapted from comparative literature. Participants learned a set of visual paired-associates, and at test were given the option to selectively accept or decline a memory trial for each item. Accuracy for accepted items was significantly higher than for declined in children and there was a similar tendency with adults, suggesting implicit memory-monitoring skills. Additionally, a relationship between memory-monitoring assessments and other cognitive processes was found, suggesting that memory-monitoring does not function independently of other cognitions. The results suggest that children may have implicit access to internal knowledge states at very young ages, providing an explanation for how they are able to guide learning, even as infants. Further the results suggest that the relationship between metacognitive and other cognitive skills may be rather more dynamic and complex than has typically been described.