Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Metacognitive knowledge regulates and directs cognitive activity. Thus, if metacognitive knowledge deteriorates with age cognitive performance as a whole will suffer. The focus of the present research was on assessing age differences in metacognitive knowledge. The cognitive tasks used were: vocabulary learning with two differentially effective learning strategies, prose recall, vocabulary defining and digit span.;On each task subjects were asked to predict their performance either before study, after study (in the case of the prose task only) or after testing. Following the model of Pressley and associates (e.g., Pressley, Ross, Levin and Ghatala, 1984) the ability to monitor ongoing cognitive activity was assessed by comparing the accuracy of performance predictions made at different points in the study-test cycle. Additional monitoring measures included strategy selection and selection rationale data with the vocabulary learning task and prediction range data with the prose, vocabulary defining and digit span tasks. It was expected that both younger and older adults would provide more accurate performance judgments after testing.;Three groups of subjects were included in this research: older adults (60 years and older), non-student younger adults (20 to 40 years of age) and first year university students. The two groups of younger adults performed similarly throughout. This finding argues against the hypothesis that age differences are exaggerated when university students form the young adult comparison sample.;Both younger and older adults improved the accuracy of their performance predictions and reduced the size of their prediction ranges from before study to after test. Few age differences in monitoring accuracy were obtained within conditions. There were some age differences in the strategy selection and selection rationale data on the vocabulary learning task which indicated that task familiarity was an important consideration. Older adults were reluctant to select the more potent strategy because it was less familiar. The results are discussed in terms of the importance of ecological validity in age difference research and the appropriateness of a youth-oriented decrement model of aging.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.