The cognitive and metacognitive strategies of first-graders during a shared book experience

Patricia Chiarelli Elfant, Fordham University


The cognitive and metacognitive strategies of 12 above-average first graders in a shared book experience were studied and described. Eight narrative storybooks were read with three groups of four students over a period of 4 months. For each of the 24 shared book experiences, there was a post-reading interview with one student in which the teacher/researcher used techniques of collaborative inquiry to help the student discuss strategy use while viewing a videotape of him/herself during the shared book experience. The responses of the individual students during the shared book experiences and the post-reading interviews were transcribed and analyzed. The first analysis of the transcripts revealed patterns in the use of cognitive strategies across all participants, individual participants, all three groups, and all eight stories. The categories of strategic behavior culled from 1,794 responses, in order of frequency, are: Citing Evidence, Refining, Interpreting, Predicting Outcomes, Evaluating, Questioning, and Personalizing. Fourteen of the responses were re-categorized as metacognitive strategies in a second analysis. The strategies were described as metacognitive when conscious reflected abstractions of strategy use were made that transcended the context of the stories. A second analysis of student participation indicated the use of more complex strategies, such as Citing Evidence, Personalizing, Evaluating, and Metacognitive strategies, with extended access to the stories provided in the post-reading interviews compared with the initial readings in the shared book experiences. A supplementary qualitative analysis was performed which revealed patterns in the use of cognitive strategies that involved metacognition. A cognitive-metacognitive link was described which related to Flavell's (1987) description of attributes that lead to the development of metacognition: a developing sense of self, an ability to evaluate cognition, a sensitivity to imagery, and an ability to interrelate information. The results indicated that verbalization routines, such as those used in the post-reading interviews, which give children an opportunity to discuss their mental processing, can induce more complex use of strategies. The scant occurrence of metacognitive strategies during the shared book experience is not as important as discovering the circumstances that lead to it. These children were in the emergent stages of learning to read; hence, their metacognitive strategies were in the emergent stages of development.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Elfant, Patricia Chiarelli, "The cognitive and metacognitive strategies of first-graders during a shared book experience" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9034630.