Metacognitive monitoring skills in kindergarteners and second graders: An international cooperation (MANECA)

Claudia Roebers (1), Anique de Bruin (2), Nesrin Destan (1), Manuela Spiess (1), Mariëtte van Loon (1,2)

(1) University of Bern (CH), (2) Maastricht University (NL)


Theoretical background and study foci

Metacognition represents higher-order self-reflective cognitive processes that are used to regulate information processing. Thereby, metacognitive monitoring is defined as the ability to self-evaluate one’s own task performance. Being able to accurately evaluate one’s performance is crucial for effective learning. However, young children are known to overestimate their performance or to give themselves credit even when performance is incorrect. This can be detrimental for study success.

While evidence suggests age-related improvement of metacognitive skills, relatively little is known whether children overestimate the performance of others in the same way they overestimate their own performance. Furthermore, little is known about the effect of feedback or task experience on metacognitive monitoring. Against this background, this cooperation project between Claudia Roebers (University of Bern) and Anique de Bruin (University of Maastricht/ NL) investigates kindergarteners’ (6-year-olds) and second graders’ (8-year-olds) metacognitive monitoring skills. The project addresses a range of research questions: Do we find overconfidence in both age groups? Are there individual differences in overconfidence? Does feedback affect children’s monitoring? Are children`s confidence judgements – at least to some extent – also influenced by children`s wish to perform well and thus do children reward their own performance with their confidence in test performance? Are children`s confidence judgments that they give for a peer in the same way affected by their desire “to get it right”? What role does experience with the test performance play with regard to one’s own CJs or crediting and to those of peers?


By means of a pair-associate learning paradigm, participants learned the meaning of Japanese characters (Kanji) presented on tablets. After a learning phase, they provided confidence judgments (CJs) using a 7-scaled thermometer (poles: red = very sure, blue = very unsure; reddish shades = sure, bluish shades = unsure).  Then, half of the children received feedback on their performance and had to provide CJs again.  In a last step, all children were given feedback on performance and had to give themselves credit points (0-6).  Furthermore, children were confronted with task responses given by a fictitious peer as well as the correct responses. Then, children were to provide CJs and credit points for each of the peer’s responses.