Reading Comprehension in Primary Grades: The Effects of Explicit Teaching of Metacognition

Subject: Education
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There have been concerns about the effect of metacognition in reading comprehension among young readers. Researchers and evaluators have been using various strategies in an effort to improve reading comprehension in children and older readers. However, there has been a low response from these efforts. Children have continued performing dismally in class work despite the active role played by their teachers. This paper focuses on the effect that comes with adopting metacognition strategies in reading comprehension. This is done by studying and evaluating various literatures which have been carried out to provide more information on this sensitive issue. This paper also has researched data and experiments which has been carried among young readers from different parts of the globe. I have concluded my paper by pointing the necessity of doing more research to improve the primary grades in young readers.

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Different scholars define the term ‘metacognition’ variously. The definition depends on the scholars’ personal and professional orientations. However, many of them agree that the term can be broadly conceptualized as the type of knowledge applied by someone in the process of carrying out their cognitive processes. The term can also be defined as the active monitoring, orchestration, and regulation of processes undertaken in relation to a given set of data. The major aim of such monitoring, orchestration and regulation is to achieve a certain goal or objective.

RAND Study Reading Group [RAND] (2002) provides a working definition of the concept ‘reading comprehension’. The group describes the concept as the ability of readers to extract and construct information based on their interaction with a given text. The group goes further to describe what successful reading comprehension entails. According to RAND (2002), the task requires readers to sift through the text and get the relevant points. The readers are also supposed to critically evaluate and apply the text in the various aspects of their life based on what they have understood. There are other components of reading and comprehension that are covered under metacognition. They include, among others, looking for word meaning, linking ideas in sentences, inferences, and processing sentences.

According to Almasi (2003), the theory of comprehension allows the various components of metacognition to be divided into a myriad of sub-processes. To this end, readers must demonstrate competence in order to comprehend the various texts they interact with. Ideally, it is assumed that readers have skills that allow the vital comprehension processes to function quickly and effortlessly (Anderson, 2009). Surprisingly, readers stumble over jargons or encounter problems comprehending a text due to abstruse technical problems in the course of their reading. When such problems arise, comprehension among the readers is compromised. As a result, readers must apply conscious strategies to ‘repair’ their reading comprehension (Baker, 2002). To this end, the readers apply various strategies at their disposal. Some of the strategies employed are re-reading the text or highlighting crucial information in the main text. In most cases, the comprehension is successfully repaired. However, a few cases call for comprehensive effort on the part of the reader. Failure to repair the comprehension breakdown will negatively affect the performance of students in a given learning environment (Desoete & Roeyers, 2003).

Recently, a consensus was reached among educationists and other stakeholders to allow for teaching of metacognition strategies to young students. The aim of this form of teaching is to help the young learners improve their comprehension (Berk, 2003). A combination of poor and good students has shown that poor readers often fail to employ repair strategies in their learning work. It is shocking to note that some poor readers fail to effectively identify and deal with the comprehension breakdowns and soldier on with their reading unabated. Most scholars are of the view that such students, instead of working on their weaknesses, become passive. As a result, the students are unable to cope incase the comprehension fails completely. The poor readers end up performing poorly in examinations compared to their ‘good’ counter parts (Desoete & Roeyers, 2003).

According to Flavell, Miller & Miller (2002), learning to read and comprehend is the most crucial achievement in the lives of many young students in contemporary education system. However, a good number of students fail to comprehend texts, even when they are able to decode them appropriately. Consequently, researchers, educators, and teachers have begun redirecting their focus on early comprehension instructions. The educators and other stakeholders are of the view that intervening at an early stage is the most viable option in addressing the problem of reading and comprehension among learners.

The current paper revolves around this field. In this critical literature review, the author discusses the role of metacognition and its effects on reading comprehension among primary grade students (Flavell, Miller & Miller, 2002). It combines the review of studies done on the development of metacognition, as well as reviewed instruction materials about metacognition development in both teachers and students in the education system. The improvement of metacognitive skills is vital for a child to succeed in their formal operational development stages. The development stage is attained when children reach the age of eleven years. Metacognition and cognitive development are essential in sharpening the education skills of a young child. It improves their reading, writing, and oral skills. In addition, it improves the child’s attention span, social interaction, memory, and language acquisition. The improvements will result into enhanced primary grades (Flavell, 2004). Evaluators have also devised current methods that can help readers learn and use appropriate strategies for improving their comprehension.

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The current critical literature review is organized into themes derived from the articles accessed.

Flavell’s Model of Cognitive Evaluation

The above is one of the various models used to analyze cognitive development among learners. The model was formulated in 1979. It is the basis of metacognition research work today. According to this model, there are four classifications of metacognition strategies that can be used by both learners and educators. One of them is metacognitive experiences. The other is metacognitive knowledge. The third involves goals and tasks. The last one involves strategies. The Flavell model argues that research must monitor cognitive processes by using the components classified above. For example, first one involves individual beliefs and awareness with regard to the issues that affect cognitive endeavors. The knowledge is acquired through various strategies. They include the tasks and actions performed in carrying out a given activity. The reason for this is that older learners can recognize their limitations and abilities more effectively compared to the young readers. The older learners will, as a result, perform better than their younger counterparts.

In his study, Flavell found that at a certain point in their life, children become capable of controlling their memory processes. Children start rehearsing information in order to improve their understanding capacity (Fung, Wilkinson & Moore, 2003). Others go to the extent of organizing their reading materials into groups so as to improve their ‘remembrance’ capacity. In some cases, the children are asked to recite a word list or categories of information without any intention of doing so. However, when the task proves difficult, the child becomes conscious of the activity. It is at this point that metacognitive strategies come into action. In this case, the brain grows and the child becomes capable of tackling difficult tasks. It is this capability of handling difficult tasks that improves the young learners’ grades.

Flavell’s work inspired the emergence of two strands of research areas. The strands have persisted up to date. The first of them is the theory of minds. The theory deals with toddlers and preschool children (early learners). The other involves metacognitive theory (Flavell, 2004). The theory deals with instructional matters. It is noted that the older learners will be in a prime condition to evaluate their weaknesses and strengths in reading activities. The major reason for this is that the adult learners are fully aware of their abilities (Hudson, 2007).

The Theory of Mind

To a discerning observer, the process of metacognition development (from awareness cognitive process to regulation) is very clear. However, it remains unclear how these two competencies develop in the learner. Scholars are still trying to shed more light on the knowledge and regulation requirements, as well as the environment and instructions suitable for improving the development. According to Pintrich & Schunk (2002), the development of the theory of mind gave birth to the development of knowledge and cognitive process. The theory of mind holds that the knowledge held by learners is gained from the environment and the experiences of interacting with other people. The knowledge is the awareness of cognition and gets separated from the perception at the age of 3 years (Israel, 2007).

Language plays a vital role in the development of the theory of mind. Most of the studies carried out in this field have focused on understanding the role played by the basic skills in accelerating the development of the theory of mind. Further, studies have revealed that exposure of the child to usage of metacognitive terms increases development of the theory of the mind. Thus, researchers in this field assert that the ability of a child to hear other people talk about cognitive processes enables him or her to increase their knowledge of metacognitive processes. Recently, longitudinal studies have revealed that there exists a bi-directional relationship between the theory of mind and language.

Kelemen, Frost & Weaver (2000) evaluated the potential of 44 children aged between 8-11 years. The scholars evaluated the potential of the children with regard to language, working memory, and the theory of mind. The study was carried out using two tests. False belief task was used to evaluate the theory of mind. On its part, language was evaluated using two semantic tests, which were followed by two syntactic tasks. For working memory, a modified backward ‘digital span task’ was used in measurements. Kelemen, Frost & Weaver (2000) then established a construct to evaluate the sensitivity of the theory of mind and language. From their research, they concluded that basic language skills enhanced development of the theory of the mind. They scholars also concluded that the theory of mind was capable of helping children acquire language later in their lives. Further, it was found that the working memory played no significant role in the theory of mind acquisition, while semantics and syntax were very crucial in the same process.

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According to Kramarski & Mevarech (2003), there are two dimensions of metacognition identified by scholars in this field. According to Berk (2003), knowledge of cognition is the first one. The dimension, on its part, is made up of three factors. One of them touches on declarative knowledge. The other involves conditional knowledge (Hudson, 2007). Finally, Israel (2007) identifies procedural knowledge. For instance, in reading comprehension assessments, the learner must understand the various strategies used in reading. Some of these strategies include skimming, summarizing, taking notes, and hand inferring. Learners who understand these strategies perform better in tests compared to those learners who lack knowledge of such strategies. The procedural knowledge requires readers to learn how to execute their reading strategies and make appropriate use of them. Moreover, conditional knowledge requires learners to effectively understand the reason, time, and place where they are supposed to apply a particular strategy. The aspect is essential in improving performance and, consequently, the grades in class work (McCormick, 2003).

McCormick (2003) identifies regulation of cognition as another aspect of metacognition. In reading comprehension, regulation of cognition requires learners to engage in various activities. They should plan, evaluate, review, and refine the strategies. It also involves reflecting on the steps needed for the accomplishment of an activity (McKeown, Beck & Blake, 2009).

Metacognitive Reading Comprehension Strategies

Metacognition strategies used in reading comprehension can be grouped into three major categories. The three include monitoring, evaluation, and planning strategies. The planning strategy is applied prior to the commencement of reading. The aim is to activate the background knowledge held by the learner. There are other forms of planning strategies used by students. They include, among others, previewing the various aspects of a text. The preparedness is one of the essential factors for improving the final grades in assessments. The reason is because readers get a chance of previewing the general information provided in the reading text and the writing structures used in a certain question. In addition, the planning strategy enables the learners to verify whether their reading materials meet the required text structures, such as question and answer, or not. There are other benefits associated with the strategy. for example, it helps the learners to analyze the various aspects of a given text. The strategy is enhanced further by setting the objectives of the reading (McNamara, 2007).

During the reading, the assessors should set monitoring strategies, such as vocabulary comprehension, summarizing, self-questioning, and inferring ideas from each paragraph. The readers must be able to identify the main words emphasized in the text. Some of the words, which the reader should focus on, include ‘but’, ‘in addition’, ‘however’, ‘also’, ‘in conclusion’, and ‘on the other hand’. The monitoring allows readers to ignore those parts of the text bearing no significant meaning to their life. As a result, the readers will have sufficient time in tackling the crucial segments of the text. Therefore, their primary grades will improve drastically (Michalsky, Mevarech & Haibi, 2009).

According to Oakhill, Hartt & Samols (2005), evaluation strategies should be employed after reading. In addition, learners should be encouraged to apply whatever they read in the class in other real-life situations. Metacognition is defined on the basis of two different but related aspects. The two are knowledge and control of cognitive processes. Knowledge of cognitive process is further sub-categorized into the theory of mind possessed by people and the awareness manifested by readers as they relate to other people and tasks. Control of cognitive processes is tasked with the task of regulating cognition to enhance its effectiveness. The regulation is carried out by crafting strategies to reduce chances of comprehension failures (Rohrbeck et al., 2003).

Empirical Studies of Reading: The Development of Metacognition among Young Children

Metacognition was first applied in The Field of Reading in 1980 by Brown. Brown described reading as a process that required strategic action and knowledge. Further, Brown believed that the lack of metacognitive reasoning was the major reason as to why many children ended up being poor readers. Many researchers have carried out studies based on this reasoning to improve reading strategies. Traditionally, metacognition was regarded as a late developing competency. Many researchers and educators held the opinion that young children lacked metacognitive skills and knowledge (Schwartz & Perfect, 2002). In addition, the scholars believed teaching children cognitive instruction was wastage of time and was detrimental to the learning ability of children. Another issue of contention revolved around the fact that metacognitive instruction used in reading involves executive functioning. The functioning encompasses the coordination of numerous cognitive processes in task achievement. Since executive functioning is associated with limited capacity, many assessors believe that low level of skills had to be ‘automatized’ before devoting resources to metacognition (Michalsky, Mevarech & Haibi, 2009).

However, empirical studies have shown that children aged 4 years demonstrate metacognitive strategies and knowledge while reading. It is worth noting that metacognitive processes in children become difficult to determine since some children possess strategies and knowledge, and yet fail to express it. According to Salataci & Akyel (2002), the earlier works on metacognition relied mainly on interviews. Such interviews are still used today. As such, the differences between old and young readers may be due to variations in metacognition. In addition, some studies have adapted verbal language as one of the methods of assessing metacognition.

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According to a study conducted by Veenman & Verheij (2003), children aged between 4 and 6 years employed diverse metacognition in their reading. The study was based on children who were reading unfamiliar books. The scholars interviewed these children before and after reading. They recorded the errors made by the children and corrected them. While reading, the participants displayed characteristics to do with task knowledge, self-knowledge, and text knowledge. In this study, it was noted that two of the fluent readers used semantic, phonological cues, and syntactic to safeguard against comprehension breakdown. On the other hand, the least fluent participant relied on phonological cues whenever there was a comprehension breakdown (Zhang, 2001).

According to Hout-Wolters (2000), it is essential to use a variety of assessment tools when carrying out studies on metacognitive knowledge among young learners. The scholar examined metacognition knowledge in five children who were reported to have reading difficulties. The children were put on an intervention program for a period of 16 weeks, with 20 minutes videotaped sessions. The videotapes were then shown to the children in an effort to help the assessors identify the respective child’s metacognitive skills. The children were, as a result, able to read without memorizing whatever they had said (Kraayenoord & Goos, 2003).

In 2002, Pintrich and Schunk investigated metacognition displayed by 16 bilingual Chinese and English children using a dictation task. The task required each child to recite a story as the rest wrote. The task was aimed at eliciting metacognitive utterances from the participants in relation to planning, editing, and regulating processes. The assessment tests were conducted before and after the first grade. The findings were then analyzed to detect the possibility of declarative metacognitive abilities. It was noted that poor writers used to make few metacognitive utterances, while advanced writers had the habit of commenting about the task before, during, and after they had given their stories. The findings made in this study were vital in the determination of metacognitive development among the emerging readers (Veenman & Beishuizen, 2004).

The above empirical studies led to numerous conclusions. First, it was concluded that the young children possess and use their metacognitive strategies in reading. In addition, reader development levels and assessment methods applied determined the choice of metacognitive strategy used. Second, less skilled and young readers use phonological strategies to solve their comprehension challenges. On their part, highly skilled and older readers apply syntactic and semantic cues. Though many readers seem to be aware of cognitive and metacognitive strategies, the information on whether they use metacognitive strategies to repair their reading comprehension or not remains scanty. Therefore, vivid assessment and broad studies need to be conducted to validate the above conclusions.

Metacognitive Reading Instruction for Young Children

In the year 2000, the National Reading Panel was able to review more than 205 previous studies that evaluated the efficiency of teaching texts comprehension. In the review, a few studies were conducted on children with 16 categories of instructions. The review concluded that seven factors improved comprehension in non-impaired readers. The factors include cooperative learning and question writing. Others include comprehension monitoring, story structure, and summarization. Question generation and usage of semantic and graphic organizers are other factors that improve comprehension among these children. Majority of the reviewed studies evaluated the significance of instruction based on a single cognitive strategy.

Methodology of the Study

The researcher went through a rigorous process in digging up the articles and books used in this study. The research materials used in this paper were identified through an extensive literature search carried out by the researcher. The researcher adopted several strategies in collecting data for the study. The data was collected through interviews, a case study, narratives, focus group discussions, and observations. From the results obtained in various studies, it is true that no particular method of data collection was preferred over the others. The environment within which the study was conducted can be described as unique. The research was conducted within a divergent environment. For example, there were cases where Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and English speaking children were interviewed. In addition, young readers (pre-school and kindergarteners), high school, and college students participated in the research. The researcher took measures to enhance the credibility of the data collected and analyzed in the study. The credibility of the data collected was enhanced by sampling a small group of the participants. The sampling also enhanced close communication between the participants and assessors. The studies discussed in this paper were taken from a broad number of case studies. The data from these studies is more credible compared to the rest.

The number of publications reviewed through the research was 205. For example, in 2004, Veenman, Wilhelm & Beishuizen conducted a research in the US with the aim of identifying the kinds of strategies employed by students in the classroom. The number of participants was 70 high school students who used English as their second language. The students were aged between 13 to 16 years. The participating learners were drawn from four regions. They included Vietnam, Central and South America (Veenman et al., 2004), and Puerto Rico. The number sampled was composed of an equal number of boys and girls. The researchers were interested in finding out about the learners’ English knowledge in reading. In the research, the native Spanish readers were supposed to use their language in reading. In addition, the researchers interviewed the teachers handling the students. The interview made three major findings. One of the findings revolved around social ‘affectiveness’. The other two revolved around metacognitive and cognitive factors. The metacognition factors were planning, evaluating, and monitoring.

The findings showed that the students employed metacognitive strategies during the initial reading. The number for these students was 27.4% of the total. The researchers found that intermediate learners utilized about 34.9% of their metacognition strategies. Moreover, planning was the most applied form of metacognitive strategy at 82.3%, while evaluation and monitoring had 8.3% and 9.4% respectively (Veenman, Wilhelm & Beishuizen, 2004).

Table 1: Metacognition strategies applied by young readers

Metacognitive strategy Planning Evaluation Monitoring
Percentage of users 82.3% 8.3% 9.4%

Table 2: Trends in the application of metacognition strategies

Number of students Initial study Intermediate study
Change percentage 27.4% 34.9%

In another study carried out by Fung, Wilkinson & Moore (2003), 11 students were sampled to evaluate the levels of metacognition strategies among Japanese speakers in reading. The students were subjected to TOEFL and evaluated against the native English speakers. The participants were supposed to think heavily when they were tasked with Japanese processing and apply the same on English processes. The participants were interviewed and results recorded on a tape. They were then required to explain the reasons as to why they were thinking in Japanese or English when reading. In this interview, Fung, Wilkinson and Moore were looking for the impact of English and Japanese languages in reading. They also aimed at evaluating the ways through which students from diverse backgrounds used English differently. The research revealed that there was a difference in the usage of metacognitive strategies between the first and second English speakers. It was also noted that the global strategies were used often to advanced participants as opposed to the less advanced ones. Subsequently, English speakers demonstrated high metacognitive strategies than Japanese speakers. They were dependent on English more than their Japanese language. It was also found that some participants of Japanese origin relied heavily on what the scholars referred to as ‘local strategies’. Fung, Wilkinson & Moore (2003) concluded that Japanese speakers employed metacognitive strategies in advanced level compared to the English speakers. It was found that the Japanese speakers had low scores than the English native speakers.

In another study, Zhang (2001) evaluated metacognition strategies applied by Chinese speakers in reading comprehensions written in English. In his study, he used 10 participants who were learning English in China. The participants were asked various questions regarding the awareness and reading strategies using instant interview. The interviews were similar to the Flavell model of metacognition of 1979. The interview was occasioned by Chinese and English language for improved communication. From the study, Zhang found 12 different kinds of metacognitive strategies awareness. There were also notable differences between advanced and less advanced readers. The advanced group of learners was found to be aware of their limits. The advanced group relied heavily on monitoring, skimming, and guessing. On their part, the less advanced group relied on dictionary for references. The two groups were faced with various challenges. One of them included inadequate English vocabulary. Zhang concluded that the native English speakers applied global strategies in their reading comprehension while the less advanced readers used local strategies. Lastly, the scholar recommended for further research in the field. According to the researcher, there is a need to find out more about the use of metacognitive strategies in handling particular tasks. By doing so, the strategies will enable young readers have a broad portfolio through which they can choose the appropriate strategy to fit their tasks.

In 2002, Salataci and Akyel carried out a research in this field. The scholars focused on the effects of using English and Turkish language when dealing with learners from a Turkish background. In their research, 20 students participated. These participants were subjected to both pre and post tests in English and Turkish language. In this case, the Turkish language was the first language while English was the foreign language. They employed interviews and direct observations in eight think loud subjects (Desoete & Roeyers, 2003). The participants were subjected to a three hours training for weeks during which they were educated on ways of activating and monitoring their background knowledge by applying metacognition strategies. After the study, the differences in reading strategies were recorded. The local strategies decreased by 30% while the global strategies went up by 35% as shown in the table below. It was noted that the local strategies (dictionary use, grammar and word meaning) decreased compared to global strategies (included skimming, predicting, summarizing) in both English and Turkish languages. The two researchers made several conclusions. One of the conclusions touched on the effectiveness of explicit training. They noted that the training positively impacted on the students learning a foreign language.

Table3: Effectiveness of local and global strategies among Turkish and English speakers

Before the study After the study
Local strategy 70 % 40 %
Global strategy 10 % 45 %

Veenman & Spaans (2005) carried a research to determine whether using metacognition strategies could improve reading comprehensions among Chinese students in New Zealand. In this research, the instructors handled their students ‘explicitly’. The learning sessions were conducted for 20 days and both English and Chinese languages were used. After training, it was noted that there was a tremendous improvement in reading comprehension. The students were able to use metacognition strategies to improve their reading abilities in both English and Chinese. The reciprocal teaching support was beneficial to the learners. It helped them make conclusions from particular texts using the two languages. These authors thus concluded that the adoption of metacognition strategies in both the Chinese and English languages enabled the students improve their reading comprehension. Surprisingly, this study showed massive improvement in all students in contrast to other studies which show high levels of improvements to only advanced students.

According to Janzen’s study of 2003, metacognition strategies are not always beneficial. Janzen carried out his study by using two groups of students. The first group was labeled ‘intervention’. The students in this category were taken through 30 minutes of instructions per week. They were given instructions on the various strategies of reading. On the other hand, students in the control group were subjected to traditional instructions focused on decoding and word meaning. They were also no discussions made about the certain reading strategies. The data was collected using various tools. They included questionnaires and reading examinations. The analysis of questionnaires showed that there was a big difference between the participants in the control and training classes. However, it was noted that the consciousness of reading comprehension increased in the intervention group especially during the think aloud tasks. The traditional group failed to have convincing results in this study (Michalsky, Mevarech & Haibi, 2009).

Table 4: Results obtained from both the intervention and control groups according to Michalsky, Mevarech & Haibi (2009).

Questioning Guessing Previewing Activating the background Determining the objectives
Intervention group (21) 43 % 60 % 10 % 40 % 50 %
Control group (18) 40 % 40 % 40 % 40 % 40 %

Reading Comprehension Instructional Programs

The existing positive evidence on effectiveness and efficiency of metacognition has resulted to development of strategy based instruction programs. However, these strategies are sometimes considered as metcognitive or cognitive strategies. They are both regulated and controlled metacognitively. Most of the instructional programs model explicitly uses reading strategies so as to improve the understanding capacity of students. In rare cases, some instructional programs were developed for older readers but later modified for primary level students. It is equally important to note that the informed strategy of learning (ISL), which was developed by the Paris and his colleagues in 1984, was the first instructional program ever to be designed. The program demonstrated that the metacognition strategy was feasible in primary grades (Michalsky, Mevarech & Haibi, 2009).The ISL was aimed at equipping students with procedural, declarative and conditional knowledge relevant to reading strategies. The conditional and procedural subcomponents of ISL made its founder understand the time and reason when each reading strategy should be used. This was seen to aid the instructors in knowing the correct methods for implementing the reading comprehension strategies effectively. The reading strategies were provided in three different stages: the significant of strategy, the appropriate strategy to use while reading and monitoring. Subsequently, those students who were subjected to ISL made enormous gains on comprehension measures compared to ISL students. In addition, the ISL students were well informed on metacognitive and cognitive strategies as opposed to their non-ISL. The knowledge and awareness translated into improved grades for the ISL groups (Veenman, Wilhelm & Beishuizen, 2004).

Reciprocal Teaching (RT) is another teaching program widely used in teaching comprehension strategies. RT focuses on teaching four main comprehension strategies; question generation, summarization, prediction and clarification. RT also ensures that the teaching is carried out in a dialogue manner between the teachers and students. The dialogue entails elaboration of strategies, modeling strategies and feed back. In the RT program, students are highly encouraged to participate fully in the class dialogue so as to help their fellow students (Desoete & Roeyers, 2003).

According to Veenman & Beishuizen (2004)), collaborative strategic reading (CSR) can be used to improve the reading comprehension in young readers. CRS has four key strategies that readers should apply before, during and after reading a text. These features includes ; prior previewing of the topic, monitoring of comprehensions, understanding each piece of the text and summarizing the strategy in order to have a room for questions.

Integrating reading and listening comprehension instructions

Researchers have recently suggested that early comprehension instructions can be taught to children before they learn decoding skills. This is because the previous school policies require the comprehension instruction to be taught to children after attaining the decoding ability. Researchers have conducted longitudinal studies whereby they looked at ‘oral language comprehension skills’ of children aged four years. The children were placed under aural and televised stories at ages of 8 and 10. The measurements were repeated, and children were given written stories. It was found that the comprehension score of the three Medias were correlated. Furthermore, the comprehension ability at age four predicted the possibility of future reading comprehension. It was also found that the early comprehension skills developed independently from the native language skills i.e decoding and vocabulary. Therefore, these reading comprehension findings recommended the adoption of story telling, television and aural media as the first step in developing early comprehension in children (Veenman, Wilhelm & Beishuizen, 2004).

Teaching metacognition to teachers

Despite the fact that the comprehension strategies can be implemented effectively, there has been less attention in the area of reading comprehension in the actual classroom. The implementation of metacognition strategy in the ideal context of classroom has proved to be a burning issue. The situation becomes more complicated when a teachers teaches the strategies and leaves out the skills. Moreover, effective reading can result to better comprehension of these strategies than their empty implementation. In order for teachers to effectively impact their young readers, they should be skillful and strategic in their reading instruction. They should be able to engage their students through questions and feed back during reading sessions. It is thus important for teachers to combine their teaching and instructional strategies. This will accelerate the academic goals realization in timely manner. It is a fact that this type of teaching has been hard, and teachers must get prepared to adapt the combined strategy so as to improve their students’ primary grades. Teachers should adopt direct teaching approach since it allows the students to change their mentality on reading comprehensions. They will start viewing reading comprehension as a problem solving task, which require strategic thinking. In addition the students will start thinking strategically in solving reading comprehension challenges encountered during their class work. In the same vein, teachers should be trained adequately so as to teach the basal traditional reading skills to their readers. It is also true that strategic reasoning increase the awareness among the students. In the research carried by Michalsky, Mevarech & Haibi in 2009 to ‘analyze the skills presented in basal reading texts and recast them as problem solving strategies’, it was revealed that teachers who used direct explanation approach had a great impact in the strategic reasoning of their students. The findings further showed that training teachers on how to teach metacognitive strategies to third graders could be achieved. It was also concluded that those teaching activities that greatly involved students’ participation required cognitive and metacognitive activities. These activities in return led to improved reading comprehension in students and subsequent positive change in their primary grades.


Succinctly, reading comprehension research for the last few decades has improved our understanuisng on how to improve the metacognition strategies for our young readers. The vital role played metacognitive and cognitive strategies has been documented to reach the broad number of readers and assessors. However, the attention has been turned on its effect on the primary grades hence more research need to be done. This is because the natural setting of classrooms varies in response to the metacognition strategy being used, and hence affects the primary grades of our young readers. The instruction program discussed in this paper shows that the comprehensive strategy of instruction used in many primal level readers has been effective. This has been justified through the theory of mind. Furthermore, more studies (experimental designs) need to be done in order to determine the most effective programs. In addition, teachers require flexibility and proficiency in order for them to teach the comprehension strategies in an effective manner. They need to be well prepared and focused. It is my opinion that the recent research should concentrate on developing an effective and efficient instructional method so as to aid teachers in understanding the importance of metacognition. This will enable teachers to monitor, control and correct their students. As a result, the reading comprehension capabilities will be boosted and hence the classroom performance. It is equally important for teachers to be more metacognitive than their students’. Teachers should also be reflective on what they teach so as to analyze the impact of their instructions to their students. The teachers should be aware of the fact that their actions impact various on their learners. The impacts may be positive or negative. The most important thing is for the instructor to identify the nature of their effects.

It is surprising to note that the theory of mind on young readers and applied metacognitive research have developed simultaneously. Since there is a growing interest in teaching young students on instruction comprehension, the gap is deemed to be linked.

Longitudinal studies on language should be carried on preschool children until they reach literacy. This will give an effective relationship between the theory of mind and pre-reading skills hence govern the assessors in planning for the appropriate metacognition strategies in advance. Consequently, the students will able to incorporate reading comprehension instruction in their studies.


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