The Metacognitive Skills of Writing: A Model

Title: A Metacognitive Model of Writing: An Update From a Developmental Perspective

Author: Hacker, D.J

Source: Educational Psychologist, 53(4), 220–237, 2018

Abstract: In this article, the author provides evidence to develop further an earlier metacognitive model of writing. The metacognitive model of writing describes writing as a conscious process: “the production of thought for oneself or others under the direction of one’s goal-directed metacognitive monitoring and control, and the translation of that thought into an external symbolic representation.” *Hacker adds an “agency” component and describes how writing products are monitored, controlled, and modified in an ever continuing sequence until the writing product becomes like or nearly like the metacognitive model that the writer has in mind (which can also change as the writer continues to write). What becomes clear is that young writers need to develop metalinguistic (use of language), as well as metacognitive, and meta-pragmatic (reader’s interests/likely interpretation) understanding and strategies to write effectively and efficiently.

In addition, Hacker builds a developmental profile of metacognition for writing: For example, he cites a few studies that reveal that children as early as 3-4 years old demonstrate metacognitive skills when doing their version of writing. When these children realize that ‘each mark’ they place on a paper represents an individual spoken word, writing becomes a meta representational system for them: thoughts are represented by spoken language, spoken language is represented by marks they make on paper.   

Type of Study: Review of a previous article and current research.

Participants: Although no participants were used as in an experiment, the author cites research and prior studies that cast light on the development of writing and metacognitive skills needed to write.

Implications:  The metacognitive model suggests that children’s early use of writing is a way to learn reading and children’s use of metalinguistics and metapragmatics related to their writing development. Future research then is recommended to answer two questions: “How can children’s learning to write be used as a way to instruct their learning to read?” and “To what extent does children’s exposure to metalinguistics and metapragmatics influence their writing development?”

Our Talk to Write program focuses on building the struggling writer’s ability to develop a ‘metacognitive model’ that guides the writer in creating an essay, as well as meta-pragmatic understanding and strategies that contribute to the essay’s effectiveness.

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