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Towards an Understanding of Second Language Writing Teachers’ Metacognition in Teaching

Project Scheme:
General Research Fund
Project Year:
Project Leader:
Dr MAK, Wing Wah Pauline
(Department of English Language Education)
Towards an Understanding of Second Language Writing Teachers’ Metacognition in Teaching

Metacognition, defined as the individual’s knowledge about cognitive processes and the application of this knowledge for controlling the cognitive process, plays a vital role in learning and academic achievement of students. 

Metacognition does not develop automatically in students and teachers play an instrumental role in fostering learners’ metacognition to optimize instructional effectiveness. As such, teachers must be equipped with strong knowledge of metacognition as well as sound pedagogical knowledge in the context of teaching metacognition. Yet, the literature points to a dearth of teachers who possess adequate knowledge about metacognition at their disposal or the expertise in developing students’ metacognitive capacities. In the second language (L2) writing contexts specifically, a large number of L2 writing teachers still conceive of writing instruction in terms of assigning writing topics and delivering feedback, spending an inordinate amount of time responding to errors in student writing. 


Exploring the development of L2 elementary writing teachers’ competence in metacognitive instruction is crucial as a growing body of literature has documented that metacognitive thinking develops substantially in children in early years and metacognitive instruction could form a solid foundation of metacognitive thinking that children could build on throughout the different phases of schooling. 


Moreover, writing is a cognitively demanding task, especially to elementary L2 writers, thus metacognitive teaching and learning has great potential in improving students’ writing in their learning contexts. Against this backdrop, the proposed research project will examine teachers’ integration of metacognitive instruction into the writing classroom; how, and to what extent teachers develop their competence in metacognitive writing instruction; and what factors influence teachers’ development of competence in metacognitive writing instruction. 


Adopting a case study approach, the proposed study will involve all the Primary 5 English teachers in two primary schools in Hong Kong. Multiple data sources will be gathered, including individual interviews with principals, English Department Heads, and teachers, learning logs from teachers, teachers’ meeting observation, classroom observations, student writing as well as documents about metacognitive instruction (i.e., school policy and guidelines of teaching writing, pedagogical material, meeting notes and minutes). 


The proposed study will contribute to the literature by enhancing our understanding of the developmental process of teachers' competence in metacognitive instruction mediated by institutional and socio-cultural factors. It will also illuminate how to bridge the gap between theory and practice and inform teacher education programmes on how to better prepare teachers’ professional development in metacognitive instruction.