High -achieving and underachieving gifted middle school students' metacognitive strategies in reading comprehension

Esther Berkowitz, Fordham University


The metacognitive ability of the gifted would be expected to manifest itself in the area of reading comprehension. All gifted students, however, do not achieve in a similar way, therefore this study was designed for the following purposes: (a) to identify the metacognitive reading strategies used by gifted high achieving and gifted underachieving middle school students and (b) to compare and contrast the metacognitive reading strategies used by these 2 groups. The study's participants were gifted middle school students from the teacher researcher's 8th language arts classes. A stratified controlled random sample was used to identify extreme groups of achievers, consistent gifted high achievers and consistent gifted underachievers. For the study, 10 participants were chosen with 5 in each group. Data were collected from a metacognitive reading strategy survey, verbal protocols, and a post think-aloud interview. All of the gifted high achievers interacted dynamically with the text in order to make meaning. These students employed inferring and evaluating strategy categories. In the monitoring category, the strategy of recognizing and/or resolving comprehension problems accounted for a high percentage of the responses. Categories employed by the majority of underachievers were inferring and evaluating. Within the inferring category, the strategy of making inferences about characters or setting accounted for a large majority of the total responses. Both groups applied text-level strategies and went beyond text-level with the use of the inferring category, focusing on making inferences about characters or setting. Use of monitoring reflected a difference between the 2 groups with the gifted high achievers' use of the category 3 times that of the gifted underachievers. In addition, the gifted high achievers used a wider variety of reading strategies and applied them more often than the gifted underachievers. While there was no statistical significance in the comparisons of the 2 groups, the quantitative results made clear that the gifted high achievers were more homogeneous and the gifted underachievers were more heterogeneous in their strategy use. Conferencing was viewed as critical to gaining a deeper understanding of the individual nature of each student.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Cognitive therapy|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Berkowitz, Esther, "High -achieving and underachieving gifted middle school students' metacognitive strategies in reading comprehension" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3134432.