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Support of metacognitive processes during learning with multiple representations

Working groupMultiple Representations Lab
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

While learning as, for instance, in schools, it is very important that learners are aware of their state of learning and their learning goal in order to be able to control their learning behavior with regard to their goal. For learners it is not easy to make accurate judgments of learning. This project took a closer look at the question of how learners can be supported to make accurate judgments and regulate their learning behavior accordingly.

With the increasing availability of autonomous learning opportunities, the ability to self-regulate one’s learning becomes more important. In order to be able to effectively regulate one’s learning behavior in relation to a learning goal, it is necessary to accurately monitor one’s learning processes and the degree of goal achievement (self-regulated learning, Bjork, Dunlosky & Kornell, 2013). However, monitoring has been found to be inaccurate in that learners often overestimate their level of understanding. Inaccurate monitoring can lead to inadequate control in that, for instance, learners stop studying materials too early or decide against restudying materials even though they have not yet properly understood them. As a consequence, due to these failures to self-regulate their learning, students may show bad learning outcomes. Previous research has shown that generative learning tasks such as writing down keywords, summaries, or completing diagrams after learning from expository text can improve judgments of learning and control processes. Such a task requires recall and application of the learned information, which gives learners information regarding their state of learning.

This research project investigated whether a generative visuo-spatial task (drawing) after learning from expository text has a positive influence on judgments of learning (monitoring), learning behavior (control processes) and learning outcome. The empirical findings are inconclusive: While the drawing task in a first study had positive effects on the accuracy of judgments of learning, in further empirical studies it had no positive effect. The moderators known from research on metacongnitve learning processes, e.g. the delay of the generation task, also proved meaningless in this context. However, the quality of the drawings produced correlated significantly with the learning success and thus confirmed the role of drawing as an effective learning strategy.


Dr. Alexander Eitel, University of Freiburg, Department of Psychology


Schleinschok, K., Eitel, A., & Scheiter, K(2017). Do drawing tasks improve monitoring and control during learning from text? Learning and Instruction, 51, 10-25.