Original Research

The influence of a metacognitive approach to cooperative pair problem-solving on self-direction in learning

Betty Breed, Roxanne Bailey
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 14, No 1 | a516 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v14i1.516 | © 2018 Betty Breed, Roxanne Bailey | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 November 2017 | Published: 11 June 2018

About the author(s)

Betty Breed, Department of Computer Science Education, North-West University, South Africa
Roxanne Bailey, Department of Computer Science Education, North-West University, South Africa


Preparing students for self-directed learning has become an obligation of 21st century educational institutions. This study focused on developing students’ metacognitive awareness during cooperative pair problem-solving, with the aim of enhancing their levels of self-directed learning. The research involved a class of 33 second-year computer applications technology education students in a semester module. Quantitative data related to the students’ levels of self-directed learning and metacognitive awareness were gathered in a pre-test using Williamson’s self-rating scale of self-directed learning and an adapted version of Schraw and Dennison’s metacognitive awareness inventory, respectively. During the semester, the students implemented a set of metacognitive self-questions when doing cooperative pair problem-solving tasks. At the end of the semester, the same two questionnaires were used in a post-test. The results showed that students’ metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive control had increased, with both statistical and practical significance, especially with respect to procedural knowledge, planning and monitoring. The results further showed that the self-directed learning of students who initially scored moderate or low levels of self-directed learning had increased, with both statistical and practical significance in most areas of self-directed learning. Seven randomly-selected participants were then individually interviewed to collect qualitative data about their experiences and views of using the metacognitive self-questions during problem-solving in cooperative pairs, and how this influenced their self-directedness in learning. The results for the qualitative data correspond with what was found with the quantitative data. Based on these findings, we conclude that the use of the metacognitive self-questions during cooperative pair problem-solving positively influenced the students’ levels of self-directed learning.


self-directed learning; metacognition; metacognitive teaching-learning strategy; cooperative learning; pair problem solving


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