Self-regulated Learning and Conceptual Development in Young Children: The Development of Biological Understanding

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Within an understanding of metacognition as a process embedded within the self-regulated learning construct, this chapter presents a review of different theoretical models relating the concepts of self-regulated learning and metacognitive skills to models of conceptual change and learning in a domain. This review stresses a developmental perspective and an in-depth analysis of these relationships within the scientific domain. In this context, theories of self-regulated learning and intentional conceptual change are analysed and discussed in the light of recent evidence from empirical studies. Evidence will also be presented from an empirical study, carried out by the authors, which illustrates the relationship between these constructs in the early years of schooling in relation to the biological domain. Through a multiple case study approach and a microgenetic perspective, eight cases belonging to the third grade of primary school were followed during one academic semester. The data collected involved observations of the children in the multiple contexts of collaborative group work activities within the classroom and individual activities and assessments which varied in their demands upon domain-specific knowledge and cognitive strategies. Implications for the relationship between self-regulated learning and conceptual change in science learning are discussed, including theoretical implications and practical suggestions to foster learning through interventions in the science classroom. The predominant type of metacognition observed in this study was of on-line regulation, namely, planning, monitoring, control and reflection during students learning. The article also examines the interrelationships between metacognition and intentional conceptual change (ICC) and between metacognition and self-regulation.