Metacognition, reading, and test taking of third graders

Cyndy Stone Allen, Tennessee State University


Achievement test scores are the measures by which classroom success, teacher accountability, and student performance are quantified. These type of tests reflect only the end product, not the reasoning processes that led the student to respond to a test item in a particular way. The purpose of this study was to explore students' reading behaviors and reasoning processes at the third-grade level using a portion of the Reading Comprehension subtest of the Stanford Achievement Test. Research was constructed in a qualitative field design employing interviewing strategies. The 24 third grade participants were individually given three reading comprehension subtests. Each student was audiotaped reading the passages and completing the test questions. A running record was completed on each student per story to document reading behaviors. This research technique provided documentation of students' correct/incorrect pronunciations, word substitutions/omissions, and self-corrections. Following the testing, each child was interviewed and audiotaped concerning their test responses. The responses were recorded in six categories: (a) right answer/right reason, (b) right answer/wrong reason, (c) right answer/no reason, (d) wrong answer/right reason, (e) wrong answer/wrong reason, and (f) wrong answer/no reason. These categories provided data to show the thought processes utilized by the students. Finally, the way in which the question type related to the test score was investigated. Analysis of reading behaviors allowed comparisons to be made between reading accuracy scores and final test scores. Relationships between those two entities varied individually. Examination of interview data revealed a correct or incorrect score did not unveil the cognitive process used by the student to select an answer. Only through talking and conversing with students in interview sessions was the cognitive process discovered. Data analysis of how question type related to the score revealed a relationship existed between question type and score. Detail-type questions had a higher accuracy score, while inference-type questions had a lower accuracy score. By using and comparing these various data results, it was revealed that many factors affected both the student's score and the interpretation of that score. These factors included reading inaccuracy, personal opinion, life experiences, question type, and inaccurate comprehension. The findings suggested that a correct or incorrect answer did not necessarily reveal the student's knowledge or ability. These findings raise issues about standardized testing and support the need for more qualitative methods of assessment.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Educational evaluation|Elementary education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Cyndy Stone Allen, "Metacognition, reading, and test taking of third graders" (1998). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI9907834.