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Examining the development of metacognitive strategy knowledge and its link to strategy application in complex problem solving: A longitudinal analysis
B. Nicolay, F. Krieger, M. Stadler, M.-P. Vainikainen, M. A. Lindner, A. Hansen, S. Greiff

Examining the development of metacognitive strategy knowledge and its link to strategy application in complex problem solving: A longitudinal analysis

Metacognition and Learning

The ability to solve complex problems successfully represents a key competence for students’ educational success and beyond. While strategy application and metastrategic knowledge constitute two underlying components that drive successful complex problem solving (CPS), little is known about how these two facets develop individually and jointly in students over time. In order to address this critical research gap, the present study employed a longitudinal design investigating how strategy application, with a focus on the vary-one-thing-at-a-time (VOTAT) strategy, and metastrategic knowledge evolve in students from grade 6 (t1; age M = 12.22) to grade 9 (t2; age M = 15.27). At both measurement occasions, N = 918 students completed two computer-based assessments, one for CPS VOTAT application, and the other for metastrategic knowledge, each consisting of six items. While initial analyses yielded statistically significant improvements in VOTAT application and metastrategic knowledge from t1 to t2, students appeared to be far from mastering either at both measurement occasions. Furthermore, results from a cross-lagged panel model showed that the two concepts are closely intertwined and mutually influence each other over time. Implications of this mutual development of VOTAT application and metastrategic knowledge in CPS are illustrated with respect to potential applications in educational contexts. The discussion places particular emphasis on how upcoming CPS training programs in educational settings can be tailored to specifically improve both strategy application and metastrategic knowledge in students.