An Exploration of Metacognition in Asynchronous Student-Led Discussions: A Qualitative Inquiry

Martha M. Snyder, Laurie P. Dringus


Research is limited on how metacognition is facilitated and manifested in socially situated online learning environments such as online discussion forums. We approached metacognition as the phenomenon of interest partly through a methodological objective to evaluate the relevance of a metacognition construct and partly through a content objective to study student-led facilitation of discussions as a strategy in promoting metacognition. Results revealed that the metacognition construct was useful in helping us understand and organize the data and student-led online discussions can be an effective strategy for helping students develop dimensions of metacognition including knowledge, monitoring, and regulation. However, in order for students to use these skills effectively, instruction, motivation, and guidance are needed particularly related to regulation of metacognition and co-construction of meaning.


metacognition, online learning, instructional design, student-led discussions, co-regulation, facilitation skills, community of inquiry

Full Text:



Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911.

Young, A., & Fry, J. D. (2008). Metacognitive awareness and academic achievement in college students. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 1-10.

Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D.R. (2011). Assessing metacognition in an online community of inquiry. The Internet and Higher Education, 14, 183-190.

McInerney, D. M. (2005). Educational psychology – theory, research and teaching: A 25-year retrospective. Educational Psychology, 25(6), 585-599.

Palincsar, A. S. (1998). Social constructivist perspectives on teaching and learning. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 345-375.

Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 10, 157-172.

Mayer, R.E. (1998). Cognitive, metacognitive, and motivational aspects of problem solving. Instructional Science, 26(1/2), 49-63.

McCabe, J. (2011). Metacognitive awareness of learning strategies in undergraduates. Memory and Cognition, 39(3), 462-476.

Choi, I., Land, S., Turgeon, A.J. (2005). Scaffolding peer questioning strategies to facilitate metacognition during online small group discussion. Instructional Science, 33, 483-511.

Baran, E., & Correia, A. P. (2009). Student-led facilitation strategies in online discussions. Distance Education, 30(3), 339-361.

Hull, D. M., & Saxon, T. F. (2009). Negotiation of meaning and co-construction of knowledge: An experimental analysis of asynchronous online instruction. Computers & Education, 52, 624-639.

Chenail, R. J., Cooper, R., & Desir, C. (2010). Strategically reviewing the research literature in qualitative research. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 4, 88-94.

Smith, C.P. (2000). Chapter twelve: Content analysis and narrative analysis. In Reis, H.T. and Judd, C.M. (Eds.). Handbook of research methods in social and personality psychology (pp. 313-335).

Sandelowski, M. (2000). Whatever happened to qualitative description? Research in Nursing & Health, 23, 334-340.

Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory Method and Research. London: Sage.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. G. (2011). Designing qualitative research. (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Garrison, D.R. & Akyol, Z. (2013). Toward the development of a metacognition construct for communities of inquiry. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 84-89.

Chenail, R. J. (2011, January 20). Descriptive or generic qualitative research. Unpublished Tegrity lecture notes for QRGP 6301 Qualitative Data Collection, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Smith, J. A., & Osborn, M. (2003). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In J.A. Smith (Ed.), Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to methods. London: Sage.

Schraw, G. (1998). Promoting general metacognitive awareness. Instructional Science, 26, 113-125.

Harasim, L. (2012). Learning Theory and Online Technologies. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group.

Martin, K.H. (2013). Leveraging disinhibition to increase student authority in asynchronous online discussion. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(3), 149.164.

De Wever, B., Van Winckel, M., & Valcke, M. (2008). Discussing patient management online: The impact of roles on knowledge construction for students interning at the paediatric ward. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 13(1), 25-42.

Creswell, J.W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Shea, P., Hayes, S., Smith, S.U., Vickers, J., Bidjerano, T., Pickett, A., Gozza-Cohen, M., Wilde, J. & Jian, S. (2012). Learning presence: Additional research on a new conceptual element within the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework. The Internet and Higher Education, 15, 89-95.

Haller, E.P., Child, D.A. & Walberg, H.J. (1998). Can comprehension be taught? A qualitative synthesis of “metacognitive” studies. Educational Researcher, 17(9), 5-8.


Copyright (c)