Examining the cognitive and metacognitive strategies of first-grade journal writers in a literature-based classroom

Judith Ann Short, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the cognitive and metacognitive strategies that first graders developed during their daily journal writing in a literature-based classroom. The 17 students responded to monthly retrospective interview questionnaires that were based on their journal entries from November to May. The questionnaire was designed to identify the strategies that the writers employed in generating ideas and constructing words. As part of their classroom assessment, the students were administered the same Morris Spelling Test, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, and the first-grade Word Identification Test as pre- and posttests during October and May. The initial 2 and final 2 journal entries that were considered as part of the interviews were scored using the New York State Early Literacy Profile Writing Scale. Responses to the questionnaire interview were analyzed according to the metacognitive categories of declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge. The results of this study suggested that these first-grade students were developing cognitive and metacognitive strategies when presented learning experiences that provided instruction through modeling, scaffolding, and dialoguing. Thinking, writing about past experiences, and writing about people were the cognitive strategies that first graders most frequently reported. As the complexity of their journal entries increased, their responses utilized more procedural and conditional knowledge. In the construction of words, the results indicated that for invented spelling, students predominantly depended on sounding out words while in accomplishing the standard spelling of words, their choices of cognitive strategies were evenly distributed among their reported strategy use. Most students used their declarative knowledge to express their sounding-out strategy when constructing words while relying on their procedural knowledge in expressing their successful construction of standard spelling words. First graders are beginning to construct an internal framework of cognitive strategies and becoming metacognitively aware of how, when, and where to utilize these strategies during the writing process. Additionally, this study has demonstrated the viability of the questionnaire as a means of collecting metacognitive data from first graders.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Short, Judith Ann, "Examining the cognitive and metacognitive strategies of first-grade journal writers in a literature-based classroom" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021715.