The effects of prior knowledge and instructional patterns on academic achievement and metacognition in global studies

Regina Conlon Tratnyek, Fordham University


This study sought to determine the effects of prior knowledge and instructional patterns (Ausubel's, 1960, advance organizers and Tharp and Gallimore's, 1988, instructional conversations) on academic achievement as measured by a researcher-generated, criterion-referenced examination, and metacognition as measured by a researcher-generated questionnaire in Global Studies. Eighty-nine female ninth-grade students in a private, college preparatory school in a metropolitan area were classified as having either high or low prior knowledge levels by results of a pretest derived from New York State Global Studies Regents Examination questions. Four intact classes were randomly assigned to one of the two treatments, each lasting 26 days. A 2 x 2 multiple regression analysis design was used to determine the statistically significant effects of the independent variables on the dependent variables. Significant differences in academic achievement were found between students with high and low prior knowledge levels (F = 29.234, df = 1.87, p < .01). There were also significant differences in metacognition between students with high and low levels of prior knowledge (F = 15.783, df = 1, p < .01). Finally, students taught by using instructional conversations had significantly higher scores in metacognition than students taught by the instructional pattern using advance organizers (F = 4.158, df = 1, p < .05). No significant differences between the instructional pattern which used Ausubel's advance organizers and that which used Tharp and Gallimore's instructional conversations were found. No significant interactions were found between either prior knowledge levels and instructional pattern on the students' academic achievement in Global Studies, or between prior knowledge levels and instructional patterns on metacognition in Global Studies. Conclusions were: (1) Students' level of prior knowledge of a subject impacts both their academic achievement as well as their level of metacognitive awareness in a subject area. (2) Because of variations among and within students, no one instructional pattern is significantly better in all situations. (3) Instructional conversations may have enhanced students' ability to develop their metacognitive awareness in Global Studies by allowing for greater student-to-student interaction and verbalization. From an instructional perspective, research should continue for a greater understanding of the factors that influence student academic achievement and metacognition.* *Originally published in DAI Vol. 57, No. 5. Reprinted here with corrected author name.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Conlon Tratnyek, Regina, "The effects of prior knowledge and instructional patterns on academic achievement and metacognition in global studies" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631025.