Teaching and learning get much easier when learners, young as they are understand how their individual learning works and using that as an advantage to improve their learning process.
With metacognition, learners can easily understand themselves and their learning, and possibly work towards changing what doesn’t work in their learning process.
A study from South Africa was setup to determine whether metacognition among learners in the Intermediate Phase in content areas could be improved using by means of telling stories with the learning process as theme.
The study wanted to understand how storytelling can help young learners acquire reflective self-awareness and knowledge of metacognitive strategy use in content area learning.
Over two years, two Grade 4 class groups, along with their teachers, in two public schools from the Western Cape were involved in the study.
During the interviews it became apparent that the learners could relate to the characters in the stories. Abe (the main story character) modelled how to reflect on one’s own learning and he related first-hand how he thinks and what he learns about himself and the learning process, providing the reader with the vocabulary and phrases to imitate.
One of the learners is said to have commented the following on the story:
I read and then I stop and ask myself: What does this part mean? I think out loud … like Abe.
The learning was practical, it’s something the kids could easily imitate as they read through, making it easier for them to remember the content and context of the story.
Further research in the context of South Africa has to consider a larger sample and also highly diversify the sample by including kids from rural areas. This might be a challenge since most kids from low income areas tend to have poor reading skills. However, learners from these areas represent a large number in the system, testing them and helping them understand their learning would be a great deal.