Cognitive and Metacognitive Questionnaires For Assignment 1

updated for fall, 2005

Use the explanations of questionnaire subscales provided in this section to write your strategy reflection.

Goal Orientation

Origin of Theory

Until recently, the emphasis was on two goal types: mastery goals and performance goals. Elliot and his colleagues proposed that the original mastery and performance goals be revised to distinguish between approach and avoidance motivation (Elliot & Church,1997; Elliot & Harackiewicz, 1996).

The Instrument

The instrument used in this exercise is the 12-item Goal Orientation instrument designed by Elliot and McGregor (2001).

There are four subscales on the questionnaire representing (1) Mastery-approach, (2) Mastery-avoidance, (3) Performance-approach, (4) Performance-avoidance. Each subscale has three items on the questionnaire. The items were answered on a seven-point Likert scale, from 1 (not at all true of me) to 7 (very true of me). To express the results clearly to you, we converted the subscales to a score out of 10.

Subscale 1 – Mastery-Approach Goals

Students with mastery-approach goals focus on the development of competence for its own sake (Elliot and McGregor, 2001). When students have mastery-approach goals, they strive to master or know the task they are working on; they are motivated to learn in order to improve their knowledge and abilities. The emphasis is on learning and self-improvement. An example of a mastery-approach item is: “ I want to learn as much as possible from this class.”

How mastery-approach relates to studying strategies and tactics. Learners who strive to master the task are not necessarily concerned about showing that they are competent. Their study strategies touch on every part of the task as they strive to master it. Some theorists equate mastery goals with intrinsic motivation and portray mastery goals as the ideal form of competence-based regulation (Elliot and McGregor, 2001). A student with high Mastery-approach might be more willing to ask for help from a teacher, even though asking for help would reveal to the teacher that they have an incomplete understanding.

Subscale 2 – Mastery-Avoidance Goals

Students with mastery-avoidance goals are motivated to avoid situations in which they are unable to learn. When students have mastery-avoidance goals, they tend to worry about their inability to master the task. An example of a mastery-avoidance item is: “I worry that I may not learn all that I possibly could in this class.”

How mastery-avoidance relates to studying strategies and tactics. A learner with a high mastery-avoidance orientation might choose to study easier material, or solve easier problems. The learner may choose to take easier courses. When given a challenging study problem, the learner may give up sooner. The learner may not check results on a practice test because they don't want to know how badly they did.

Subscale 3 – Performance-Approach Goals

Performance-approach goals are focused on the demonstration of competence relative to others (Elliot and McGregor, 2001). When students have performance-approach goals, they do not necessarily care about mastering the task. There is an emphasis on doing better than other students. Learners who have a performance-approach goal orientation are extrinsically motivated. An example of a performance-approach item is: “It is important for me to do better than other students.”

How performance-approach relates to studying strategies and tactics. Learners who have a performance-approach goal orientation are concerned about their performance or grade. They are extrinsically motivated. Learners with this goal orientation may select challenging tasks or problems.

Subscale 4 – Performance-Avoidance Goals

Students with performance-avoidance goals are concerned with avoiding failure in front of others. They are extrinsically motivated by a fear of poor performance. An example of a performance-avoidance item is: “My goal in this class is to avoid performing poorly.”

How performance-avoidance relates to studying strategies and tactics. Learners with performance-avoidance goals may avoid asking for help because it demonstrates that they do not understand. They avoid placing themselves in challenging situations. They may experience high levels of exam anxiety. They may avoid telling friends how they did on an exam.

Epistemological Beliefs

Origin of Theory

Beliefs about how individuals come to know, and how knowledge is constructed have been shown to influence factors such as students' motivation, persistence and problem solving approach (Hofer & Pintrich, 2002).

The Instrument

For this exercise we used the 25-item Epistemic Beliefs Inventory (Bendixen, Schraw, & Dunkle, 1998) that measures five different aspects of belief about knowledge and ability. The five subscales are based on work by Schommer (1993). The items were answered on a six-point Likert scale. We have adjusted the results so that the scores on each subscale are out of 10.

The five subscales are:
1. Certain knowledge
2. Simple knowledge
3. Omniscient authority
4. Quick learning
5. Innate ability

Students’ beliefs influence how they process and interpret information. Their beliefs can significantly affect their motivation, self-perception about their ability to learn and the strategies they select to support learning. The combination of self-monitoring activities and learning strategies is known as self-regulated learning.

Certain Knowledge

This subscale measures one’s belief in the stability and certainty of knowledge. It ranges from the belief that knowledge is tentative and conditional to the belief that knowledge may be absolutely fixed and certain for all time.

An example of belief in certain knowledge is "if two people are arguing about something, at least one of them must be wrong."

Self-regulated learning strategies. Learners who believe that knowledge is certain may have a low tolerance for ambiguity, preferring detailed, clearly defined instructions. These learners may not study an alternative perspective that is inconsistent with beliefs that currently dominate a field.

Simple Knowledge

This subscale measures one’s belief in the structure of knowledge. The degree to which a learner believes that knowledge is a cohesive body ranges from “viewing knowledge as a collection of isolated facts to seeing knowledge as a series of interrelated ideas" (Buehl, 2003).

An example of belief in simple knowledge is "most things worth knowing are easy to understand."

Self-regulated learning strategies. Learners who believe that knowledge is a collection of unrelated facts tend to study individual facts and ignore relationships among them. Believing that knowledge is an accumulation of facts may lead to a failure to integrate information.

Omniscient Authority

This subscale measures one’s belief that teachers, textbook authors and experts have special access to knowledge that is not available to learners. People who score high on this subscale tend to believe that knowledge must be handed down by authorities, not derived by reason or observation.

An example of belief in omniscient authority is "people shouldn’t question authority."

Self-regulated learning strategies. A learner who believes that authorities have access to otherwise inaccessible knowledge is less likely to think critically during the learning process.

Quick Learning

This subscale measures one’s belief in speed of knowledge construction. Those who obtain high scores on this subscale believe that knowledge is acquired quickly or not at all. Those who obtain low scores believe that learning occurs gradually.

An example of belief in quick learning is "If you haven’t understood a chapter the first time through, going back over it won’t help."

Self-regulated learning strategies. Learners who believe that knowledge is acquired quickly or not at all are less likely to persist when they encounter difficulties. They may study superficially, not investing the time required for deep understanding. They may view concentrated effort is a waste of time. They may accept the first source of information they locate when researching a topic instead of seeking multiple sources.

Innate Ability

This subscale measures one’s belief in the self-controllability of intelligence. It ranges from the idea that intellectual ability can be developed by effort to the belief that it is fixed at birth. A learner who scores high on this subscale believes that intelligence is innate; and that one’s ability to learn is determined by nature and cannot be altered by one's effort.

An example of belief in innate ability is "some people just have a knack for learning and others don’t."

Self-regulated learning strategies. Learners who believe that intelligence is fixed at birth may display helpless behavior in the face of a difficult task and are less likely to try different study strategies or persist in their efforts. Learners with this belief may miss opportunities to improve their learning skills by evaluating them after completing assignments.

Metacognitive Strategies

Learners who use metacognitive strategies perform better than those that don’t (Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990). Metacognitive skills include planning, selecting and monitoring learning strategies, as well as analyzing the effectiveness of learning strategies, and making modifications when required.

The Instrument

The instrument used in this exercise was developed by Schraw and Sperling-Denisson (1994) to measure knowledge and regulation of cognition in adult learners. The 52-item Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) was administered to allow you to assess your knowledge about your learning strategies. According to Schraw and Sperling-Denisson “metacognition refers to the ability to reflect upon, understand and control one’s learning.”

Knowledge about Cognition

Knowledge about cognition is what students know about themselves. It represents the self-reflective aspect of metacognition such as the strategies, and conditions under which strategies are most useful. Researchers have reported correlations among metacognition, motivation and strategic behaviour (Hammann & Stevens, 1998).

An example of a knowledge about cognition item is "I am a good judge of how well I understand something."

Application: Learners who score high on this subscale may be better able to judge whether they have mastered a skill or learned a concept. They may be better able to predict how much time they will need to study a particular topic.

Regulation of Cognition

Regulation of cognition corresponds to the metacognitive strategies that learners use to control their learning.

An example of a regulation of cognition item is "I set specific goals before I begin a task."

Application: Learners who score high on this subscale may be better able to identify learning goals, select appropriate strategies, monitor progress toward a solution, modify strategies to achieve a goal and finally, evaluating the learning process.

Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire

Motivation Scales

1. Intrinsic Motivation: This is the degree to which students perceive themselves to be participating in a task for reasons such as challenges, curiosity, mastery etc."In a class like this, I prefer course material that arouses my curiosity, even if it is more difficult to learn."

2. Extrinsic motivation: The degree to which students perceive themselves to be participating in a task for reasons such as grades, evaluation by others and competition

3. Task Value: Students' evaluation of how interesting, how important and how useful the task is.

4. Control of learning beliefs: Students' beliefs that their efforts to learn will result in positive outcomes

5. Self-efficacy for learning and performance: Expectancy for success refers to performance expectations and relates specifically to task performance.

6. Test Fear: Negatively related to expectancies and academic performance.

Cognitive Scales

7. Rehearsal: Involves reciting items from a list to be learned - best used for simple tasks and activation of information in working memory rather than acquisition of new information in long-term memory."When studying for this course, I read my class notes and the course readings over and over again."

8. Elaboration: Help students store information into long-term memory by building internal connections between items to be learned. Strategies may include paraphrasing, summarizing, note-taking.

9. Organization: Help the learner select appropriate information and construct connections among the information to be learned.

10. Critical Thinking: The degree to which students report applying previous knowledge to new situations in order to solve problems, reach decisions, or make critical evaluations with respect to standards of excellence.

11. Metacognitive self-regulation: The awareness, knowledge, and control of cognition.

12. Time Management: Ability to manage and regulate personal time and study environments.

13. Effort regulation: Students' willingness to try hard even when work is difficult.

14. Peer Help: Collaborating with one's peers - dialogue with peers can help to clarify material and reach insights one may not have attained independently.

15. Help seeking: Students realize when they don't know something and are able to identify someone to provide them with assistance.

Study Strategies and Tactics

Learning strategies are plans. They are general plans for learning or studying that include conditional knowledge. For example, "If information seems to consist of unrelated concepts, try to find relationships between the concepts." A strategy might include several steps, each with conditional knowledge.

Learning tactics are specific actions.


Create a summary.

Create a concept map.

Create an outline.

Create a table.

Highlight a term.

Delete redundent information.

Make a note.

Read a paragraph.

Make a link between two facts

Think of an example demonstrating a principle.

Abstract a principle from an example.

Rephrase a sentence.

Draw a spatial map.

Make a Venn diagram.

Make up a mnemonic acronym.

Make up a mnemonic rhyme.

Think of a counterargument.

Make a data graph (bar graph or line graph).



1. Preview

2. Question

3. Read

4. Reflect

5. Recite

6. Review

What tactics might be useful in each stage of this strategy?

The Fall and Rise of Cognitive Psychology

Folk Psychology

Folk psychology is the theory implicit in people's everyday comments about mental states such as belief, fear, stubbornness, and creativeness. It is our "commonsense" understanding of how the mind works.

Folk psychology is probably useful for predicting and controlling what others will do. It summarizes what we have observed a person to do or say, so that we can interact effectively with them without having to remember the details.

Example: "He loves french fries, but is worried about his blood pressure."

Folk psychology is a primitive but practical form of cognitive psychology. It deals with the contents and states of the mind.

Cognitive Psychology in Philosophy

Philosophers developed more sophisticated theories of mind. These were early forms of cognitive psychology.

Example: Socrates believed that the soul knows everything that exists. Therefore, learning is the process of remembering or bringing into the mind that which is already known by the soul.

Example: John Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690) divided operations of the mind into sensation (perception) and reflection (thought).

Analogy: Locke saw the child's mind as beginning like a blank sheet of paper.

Early Cognitive Psychology

The science of psychology begins with Wilhelm Wundt founding a laboratory at Liepzig in 1879.

Wundt wanted to discover the processes by which simple thoughts become aggregated into more complex thoughts.

Analogy: Wundt viewed this aggregation as analogous to chemical elements being assembled into molecules.

Wundt introduced the scientificially controlled study of thought and perception.

The methods of introspection developed by early cognitive psychologist turned out to be unreliable.

There was criticism of the concept of mental imagery that was was central to the theories of the early cognitive psychologists.

"The image, as a copy or reproduction of sensation . . . does not exist." (Dunlap, 1912)

Memory and Forgetting

Until about 1970, research on cognitive psychology was pursued in the shadow of behavioral psychology.

For example, verbal learning researchers studied how people memorized and forgot word lists.

Information Processing Models

Using the computer as a metaphor, models were proposed in which information moved between different memory structures.

These information processing models were summed up in the model proposed by Atkinson and Schiffrin (1968).

Atkinson-Schiffrin Model

In sensory memory a "snapshot" of information from the environment is stored very briefly in the brain.

If the person attends to the information, it is loaded into short term memory.

Short term memory (working memory) is where information is processed. It has limited capacity (5 to 9 chunks). Information is maintained in STM while it is being processed or rehearsed, but fades within 10 seconds if not used.

Information can be moved from STM into long term memory, where it may last for years.


This graph from EFL-Forgetting.htm Shows how quickly information is forgotten after a one hour lecture.

We forget most of what we learn immediately, but then retain about 25% in long term memory for decades. Quick reviews are an efficient way to prevent forgetting.

Dual Coding Theory and Multimedia Learning

Allan Paivio

By the late 1960s, Canadian psychologist Allan Paivio had developed dual coding theory (Paivio, 1991).

Dual coding theory claims that information about the same event or object (say a rose) can be stored in both verbal and pictorial codes. The two types of information are linked (integrated). It is easier to recall information that is stored redundently in verbal and pictorial forms (e.g. the word "rose" and an image of a rose).

Multimedia Learning

Educational psychologist Richard Mayer (2001) developed dual coding theory into a theory of how we learn from pictures and words.

His research on multimedia learning shows that people retain and transfer knowledge more easily when images are accompanied by spoken narration.

Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning

Self-regulated learning has (at least) three components

1. Planning

2. Monitoring

3. Evaluation

Metacognition is thinking about thinking -- in other words, reflecting on your own cognition and learning.

The Difference Between Metacognitive Questions and Cognitive Questions

Cognitive Questions

Explain why...

Why is ... important?

What would happen if ...?

Metacognitive Questions

Have I identified all the relevant facts?

Should I change my learning goal?

Do I really understand that theory?

Where are the gaps in my knowledge?

Am I able to explain this to someone?


Dunlap, K. (1912). The case against introspection. Psychological Review, 19, 404-413.


Bendixen, L. D., Schraw, G., & Dunkle, M. E. (1998). Epistemic beliefs and moral reasoning. Journal of Psychology, 132, 187-200.

Buehl, M. (2003). At the crossroads: Exploring the intersection of epistemological beliefs, motivation, and culture. In H. Fives (Chair) Internationalizing the study of epistemology, goal orientations, and self-efficacy. Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.

Elliot, A. & McGregor, H. (2001). A 2 x 2 achievement goal framework. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 501-519.

Elliot, A.J. & Church, M.A. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 218-232.

Elliot, A., & Harackiewicz, J. (1996). Approach and avoidance achievement goals and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 968-980.

Garcia, T., & Pintrich, P. (1996). Assessing Student's Motivation and Learning Strategies in the Classroom Context: The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. In M. Birenbaum & F. Dochy (Eds.). Alternatives in Assessment of Achievements, Learning Processes, and Prior Knowledge. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Hofer, B. & Pintrich, P. (2002). Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hammann, L. A., & Stevens, R. J. (1998). Metacognitive awareness assessment in self-regulated learning and performance measures in an introductory educational psychology course. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.

Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multimedia Learning. Cambridge, UK: Cambrige University Press.

Paivio, A. (1991b). Dual Coding Theory: Retrospect and current status. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 45(3), 255-287.

Pintrich, P. R., & De Groot, E. (1990) Motivational and Self-Regulated Components of Classroom Academic Performance. Journal of Educational Psychology , 82, 33-40.

Schraw, G. & Dennison, R.S. (1994). Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19, 460-475.

Schommer, M. (1993). Epistemological development and academic performance among secondary students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(3), 406-411.