A CORRELATIVE STUDY ON LANGUAGE AND NON-LANGUAGE STUDENTS’ METACOGNITIVE ASPECTS OF SPELLING
Over the past two decades, metacognitive awareness, including both knowledge and regulation of cognition, has become a major player in educational studies (Schraw, 1998). Most studies show metacognition to play a primary role in predicting, for instance, students’ language performance (Klassen, 2002).
This paper examines the metacognitive beliefs of Flemish first-year university language students (LS; n=186) and non-language students (NLS; n=139) as a predictor for spelling performance. The informants were first asked to fill in an attitude questionnaire using a 5 point Likert-scale.
Three key questions were asked (based on the questionnaire by Vanderswalmen et al., 2010):
(Q1) How good is your spelling compared to other students? (scale: very bad/bad/average/good/very good);
(Q2) How often do you have spelling problems as far as the following spelling issues are concerned: (a) Dutch verbs, (b) English loan verbs, (c) apostrophes, (d) capital letters, (e) memory words, (f) hyphens, (g) medial letters and (h) the Dutch dt-spelling rule (scale: never/seldom/regularly/often/always);
(Q3) How often do you check your written work on spelling (scale: never/seldom/regularly/often/always).
In the second part of the study, the informants completed two spelling tests: (T1) a dictation exercise with 30 words and (T2) a correction test with 20 words. All results were analyzed using the linear regression model.
In practical terms, the results of this study can be utilised to give students personalised spelling advice.
The theoretical aspects this study reveals are, amongst others, that NLS tend to have a higher metacognitive belief than LS as far as (Q2) and (Q3) are concerned, but not for (Q1). On the other hand, LS score better on both tests than NLS. For LS, T1 is better than T2, for NLS this is vice versa. Male informants rate their confidence higher than female ones, though the latter perform (slightly) better. There is a positive correlation between (Q1) and the spelling tests T1 and T2 (p<0.001), while the correlation between (Q3) and the spelling tests is not significant.
The main result of this study is that there is a significant (p<0.001) correlation between (Q2) and the results of the spelling tests: both LS and, to a lesser degree, NLS tend to overestimate their knowledge. The correlation is visible in the T2 (correction) test (LS coef.: -1,629; NLS coef.: -2,115) as well as in the T1 (dictation) test (LS coef.: -1,762; NLS coef.: -1,560).
In contrast with Rankin et al. (1994), this study shows that students’ metacognitive beliefs do not match their actual spelling performance.
 Klassen Rob (2002), Writing in early adolescence: A review of the role of self-efficacy beliefs. In: Educational Psychology Review, 14-2, pp. 173-203.
 Rankin, Joan L., Roger H. Bruning and Vicky L. Timme (1994), The development of beliefs about spelling and their relationship to spelling performance. In: Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8-3, pp. 213–232.
 Schraw, Gregory (1998), Promoting general metacognitive awareness. In: Instructional Science, 26, pp. 113–125.
 Vanderswalmen Ruth, Joke Vrijders, Annemie Desoete, Anastasia Efklides and Plousia Misailidi (2010), Metacognition and spelling performance in college student. In A. Afklides and P. Misailidi (eds.), Trends and Prospects in Metacognition Research. New York: Springer, pp. 367-394.