Research Briefing Paper for Schools, Settings and Services
Rieser, S., Naumann, A., Decristan, J., Fauth, B., Klieme, E. & Büttner, G. (2016). The connection between teaching and learning: Linking teaching quality and metacognitive strategy use in primary school. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 526-545.
Summary by Kirstie Summers, Assistant Educational Psychologist
There has been a vast amount of research that has identified the characteristics of effective teaching, however this research often neglects students’ learning activities. As Vermunt and Verloop (1999) state: ‘Teaching does not automatically lead to learning. The learning activities students engage in largely determine the quality of the learning outcomes they attain’. Accordingly, practices of effective teaching need to be related to effective learning activities to yield achievement.
Research into student’s learning activities is often conducted in the context of self-regulated learning. Self-regulated learners are expected to use a variety of different learning strategies such as cognitive, motivational and metacognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategies are cognitions that are used to plan, monitor and evaluate the learning process. In schools, teachers play a major role in the creation of learning environments that support students’ use of metacognitive strategies, and this can be through direct instruction or providing favourable learning conditions. Previous research has also shown that students need to be motivated and actively involved in learning for teaching to be successful.
This study aimed to investigate the connection between effective teaching and reported learning activities. The researchers hypothesised specific relations between a three-dimensional model of teaching quality (i.e. cognitive activation, supportive climate and classroom management) and students’ reported use of metacognitive strategies. Students’ intrinsic motivation is considered as a mediator and a moderator of this connection.
1,052 students from 53 German primary school classes and their science teachers participated. Data was collected through classroom or video observation and questionnaires over a period of approximately 2 months. Multilevel analysis was utilised to test hypotheses. Each dimension of teaching quality positively predicted students’ reported use of metacognitive strategies. For supportive climate, this connection was mediated by students’ intrinsic motivation. Cognitive activation negatively predicted the slopes between students’ reported metacognitive strategy use and motivation.
The results support the notion that effective teaching is connected to learning activities and stress the importance of students’ learning motivation. Results from the cross-level interaction could indicate that especially less motivated students’ reported metacognitive strategy use might be supported by cognitively activating teaching. Additionally the results, emphasise the central role of student characteristics: supportive climate seems to strengthen favourable characteristics like intrinsic motivation and thus increase students’ reported use of metacognitive strategies.