The development of metacognitive causal explanations

Joyce M. Alexander, William Fabricius, Victoria Manion Fleming, Melissa Zwahr, Shannon A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Metacognitive causal explanations reflect a child's understanding about how or why a strategy works. Two studies examined the growth of metacognitive causal explanations over time. Study 1 found an increase in the sophistication of early elementary school children's causal explanations over a 3-year period, although the mean intelligence score in the group was relatively high. Study 2 was conducted with children from a wider range of intelligence. Only those children with higher intelligence scores were likely to shift to more sophisticated metacognitive causal explanations over a 2-year period. Results from the two studies together suggest that the relationship between intelligence and metacognitive knowledge is much more than monotonic throughout development [Dev. Rev. 15 (1995) 1]. Indeed, higher levels of intelligence increase the likelihood that children will move from less sophisticated to more sophisticated levels of metacognitive understanding, possibly laying the foundation for more sophisticated later learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-238
Number of pages12
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Development
  • Intelligence
  • Metacognitive causal explanation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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