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Metacognition and writing in Hebrew as a second language

posted on 17.06.2020 by Anat Wilson
This study sought to identify the nature of metacognition in writing in Hebrew as a second language. Participants included five students studying for the Victorian Certificate in Education (VCE) examination. They were in their final year of secondary schooling at an independent school in Melbourne. This is a practitioner inquiry study, in which I have been acting both as the main researcher and as the participating teacher of the class under investigation.
       During 2014 data was collected, including: video recordings of lessons, two cycles of semi-structured interviews with students, a teacher’s journal, an hour-long group debrief and selected samples from students’ writing. The analysis focused on students’ reflections on their thinking, with specific relevance to their thoughts and beliefs about learning to write in Hebrew. The focus on students’ perceptions and beliefs called for qualitative methodology and analysis and interpretation using a naturalistic approach.
       Several important and new findings emerged from the analysis: (a) subtle yet distinct boundaries were revealed between metacognition, self-regulated learning and metalearning; (b) second language writing pedagogies associated with metacognition were found to include features of conceptual change, characterised by a recognition in and an engagement with students’ beliefs about writing, themselves as writers, the VCE study, their skill level and their beliefs about self-efficacy; (c) students engaged in internal-dialogues about the ease in which they regulated the language of their thoughts, pointing to a heightened metacognitive awareness and evaluation of their language switching abilities; (d) a strong correlation was found between learners’ metacognitive awareness and their coping abilities, pointing to the importance of students’ perception of their learning experience; (e) a connection was found between metacognition and improvements in students’ writing abilities as well as improvements in their learning behaviours.
   The study shows that issues of student-identity, motivation and self-agency are critical factors in metacognition and in learning and teaching second language Hebrew writing. This research potentially provides a basis for developing pedagogies that currently are not widely used, taking into greater account the influence of individual factors and promoting steps for a more positive learning experience.
       The research also sheds important light on the high-risk environment of studying second languages at the VCE level within a small-cohort. The requirement that native speakers, background language learners and non-native speakers sit the same examination and assessed against the same criteria, was revealed to be a more powerful negative stress factor than had previously been realised. Results from this research may provide key information to relevant language communities currently experiencing this diversity in a languages VCE classroom, to explore and potentially instigate policy review.
       Lastly, the re-positioning of metacognition as a more independent concept, and particularly its separation from self-regulated learning, sets up the foundation for future investigations of metacognition. The value and importance of the model offered in this thesis, is in its immediate application to second language education contexts; however, the potential for generic application to different studies and different leaning domains is a possibility that should be further explored.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Ian Mitchell

Additional supervisor 1

Maria Gindidis

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Faculty of Education