Middle School Study with Developing Metacognitive Skills

The Developing Metacognitive Skills curriculum was used in one middle school in an urban school district. The ethnicity of the school was 98% Hispanic and 2% Black. Middle schools often place students in groups or clusters, and this was so at the participating school. One cluster was assigned as the treatment group and one the control group. Science and social studies classes were targeted due to the difficulty many students have in comprehending expository text (Hacker and Tennet, 2002). Students in grades 6 and 7 received instructional strategies that focused on prior knowledge, vocabulary, text organization, summarizing, and questioning. The sixth-grade students received these strategies in both science and social studies classes, therefore, these students received the treatment for 40 hours of instruction compared to the seventh-grade students who received 20 hours of instruction in only their social studies classes.
The teachers were trained in the summer and began implementation of the curriculum at the beginning of the school year. Prior to implementation students were pretested with the Gray Silent Reading Test and a criterion vocabulary test. A trainer of Developing Metacognitive Skills observed each classroom once a week to verify fidelity of implementation and to provide feedback to the teachers. At the end of the ten weeks, students were posttested. The number of students who completed the study was 53: 16 experimental sixth-grade students; 20 experimental seventh-grade students, and 17 control students.
Seventh graders receiving 20 hours of Developing Metacognitive Skills showed statistically significant gains over the control group. F (df, 1, 34) = 4.84, p < .035 with an eta square of .067. There was no difference between groups in vocabulary. Sixth grade students who received 40 hours of instruction also had statistically significant gains over the control group. F (df, 1, 31) = 10.77p < .003 with an eta square of .227. This group also saw statistically significant gains in vocabulary. F = (df, 1, 31) p < .016 with an eta square of .231.
Even though the numbers were small for each class, the gains should be considered noteworthy. Students from this middle school were low SES and qualified for free or reduced lunch. Also, students were not precluded from the study if they were classified as learning disabled. Given the gains made in the time allowed, one could expect that given longer instructional time using the curriculum students would see even greater benefits.