Metacognition as a Transformative Process in Teaching and Learning

Lauren Foster

Advisor: Michelle La France, English Douglas Eyman, English

Committee Members: Paul Rogers

Online Location,
November 13, 2023, 12:00 PM to 03:00 PM


This dissertation is a qualitative study that analyzes current and historical research on metacognition to then provide insights on how metacognition is taken up by teachers in the writing classroom. The research goal of this dissertation is to illuminate that definitions of metacognition matter and the 'lived experiences' of metacognition impact the teaching of metacognition.  In this dissertation I will focus on teacher understanding of metacognition, metacognitive skills such as awareness and self-regulation, and discuss how metacognition is theorized as a part of transfer. This dissertation will also discuss the professional practice of metacognition as well as identify the impacts of metacognition as a practice on teachers of all experience levels. Metacognition is a promising practice both professionally and personally; thus I posit that metacognitive strategies can allow for the ability to lessen the learning gaps and increase transfer of skill. The study of this research depended upon interviews from English 302- Advanced Composition teaching faculty at George Mason University in Virginia to better conceptualize their understanding, practice, and application of metacognition in their teaching practice as well as in their own professional and personal writing practice. This qualitative dissertation project sought to understand the lived experience of teaching for metacognition, to see how teachers make sense of this challenging term. The study found that while the concept of metacognition has existed for decades and is an important addition to the teaching of writing as metacognition can enable transfer, it is a challenging concept for teachers to enact in the classroom, yet my research showed that some instructors are pushing back against the oversimplified definition of metacognition and showing us that metacognition is more than “thinking about thinking.” This study contributes to the ongoing scholarly conversations about the very complicated relationship between metacognition and transfer, as it explores the ways writing teachers conceptualize and teach metacognition. This study identifies the need to cultivate professional conversations and development around the teaching of metacognition and its practice in both the professional teaching of writing and the use of metacognition in one’s personal writing. Most importantly, this dissertation aims to open the doors of conversation around transformation through metacognition.