Cognitive and metacognitive practices of first-graders during vocabulary learning tasks

Cognitive and metacognitive practices of first-graders during vocabulary learning tasks

First Author: Susan Chambre -- Marist College
Keywords: Vocabulary, Orthography, Lexical Quality, metacognition, Emergent literacy
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. Connectionist reading models (Ehri, 2014; Perfetti & Hart, 2002) demonstrate that grapho-phonemic connections facilitates vocabulary learning (Rosenthal & Ehri, 2008; Ricketts, Bishop, & Nation, 2009). Yet research is scares about metacognitive strategies used by students during vocabulary learning, particularly as it relates to print-speech amalgamations (Ehri & Rosenthal, 2007; McKeown et al. 2017). This study examines student comments to determine cognitive and metacognitive processing employed during vocabulary learning tasks.

Method. First-graders learned 12 obscure CVC words while utilizing orthographic facilitation. Comments from 16 students were analyzed. Employing grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), inductive coding of the comments was conducted (Savin-Baden & Major, 2013). Open-coding and axial-coding resulting in five categories: orthography, picture cues, connections, pronunciation, and task ease. Based on these categories, comments were re-coded to determine which cognitive and metacognitive practices were employed.

Results. Analysis revealed emerging cognitive and metacognitive strategies via orthographic facilitation. In 84% of codes, students actively participated in their learning by creating connections to print or pictures. Metacognitive knowledge and control (Baker, 2005) was reflected in 34% of codes which indicated thinking about and reflecting on connections between external factors such as print and pronunciation.

Conclusions – These findings provide some evidence that vocabulary learning is enhanced when students employ cognitive and metacognitive strategies. This indicates that even emergent readers are able to notice the mnemonic value of print-pronunciation connections by attending to orthography during vocabulary learning. Explicitly training students on metacognitive skills during vocabulary development awaits further research.