Improving metacognition through self-explication in a digital self-regulated learning tool

Eelco Braad, Nick Degens, Wolmet Barendregt, Wijnand IJsselsteijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Digital support during self-regulated learning can improve metacognitive knowledge and skills in learners. Previous research has predominantly focused on embedding metacognitive support in domain-specific content. In this study, we examine a detached approach where digital metacognitive support is offered in parallel to ongoing domain-specific training via a digital tool. The primary support mechanism was self-explication, where learners are prompted to make, otherwise implicit, metacognition concrete.

In a controlled pre-test/post-test quasi-experiment, we compared domain-specific and domain-general support and assessed the effects, use, and learners' perceptions of the tool. The results showed that self-explication is an effective mechanism to support and improve metacognition during self-regulated learning. Furthermore, the results confirm the effectiveness of offering detached metacognitive support. While only domain-specific metacognitive support was found to be effective, quantitative and qualitative analysis warrant further research into domain-general and detached metacognitive support.

The results also indicated that, while students with higher metacognition found a lack of relevance of using the tool, students with lower metacognition are less likely to make (structural) use of the available support. A key challenge for future research is thus to adapt metacognitive support to learner needs, and to provide metacognitive support to those who would benefit from it the most. The paper concludes by formulating implications for future research as well as design of digital metacognitive support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2063-2090
Number of pages28
JournalEducational Technology Research and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2022


  • higher education
  • instructional support
  • learning strategies
  • metacognition
  • scaffolding
  • self-regulated learning


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