A HUNGARIAN APPROACH TO LEARNING TO LEARN: AN ANALYSIS OF YEAR 3–4 PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN’S LEARNING
Effective and successful learning represents a crucial element of lifelong learning. Research on learning to learn (L2L) has confirmed that in providing a comprehensive overview of learners it is not only cognitive and affective components that must be analysed, but also metacognitive elements. The research on L2L has long traditions at the Universities of Helsinki, Bristol and Amsterdam. It has more recently taken root in Italy, Cyprus, China, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. These projects approach L2L from different perspectives, such as learner and society, lifelong and lifewide learning, L2L in early childhood, effective teaching, a Confucian perspective, and non-formal education.
We launched our large-scale study on L2L, the Exploring the Possibilities of Expanding Diagnostic Assessment to Include Other Cognitive and Affective Domains project, in 2009. Our focus was to investigate schoolchildren in Years 1–6. Our present sample was formed of children in Years 3–4 (n3=240, n4=147). Our aims were to discover relationships among their cognitive, affective and metacognitive components. The research was implemented on our eDia online platform, which was constructed for the ‘Developing Diagnostic Assessments’ project.
In the cognitive dimension, we analysed children’s mathematics, reading and reasoning. In the affective dimension, we present our results from our ‘Learning characteristics’ questionnaire (under development) in the fields of effort and perseverance, self-concept, perceived support from others, such as teachers, peers and parents, cooperation, competition, learning strategies, and critical thinking. We also administered the ‘Me and the school’ questionnaire, which was designed for the Finnish framework from the University of Helsinki to analyse Year 3–4 children’s beliefs about teachers, peers and parents, their competences in maths, reading, writing, thinking and reading, their attitude towards school, and control expectancy. In the metacognitive dimension, we discovered relationships tied to the children’s opinions on the cognitive tasks.
In maths and reading, the Year 4 children achieved better than those in Year 3, while the reasoning tasks did not indicate significant differences between the two years. The Year 3 children answered that the reading tasks were difficult and that they thought that the maths and reasoning tasks were very interesting. They also reported that they felt they had completed the reasoning tasks successfully; however, they had actually performed no better than the Year 4 children.
As regards the ‘Learning characteristics’ questionnaire, we found significantly higher ratings for the Year 3 children in every field except critical thinking. The ‘Me and the school’ questionnaire showed that the Year 3 children evaluate their own competences in maths, thinking and reading, they have a more positive self-concept and a more positive attitude towards school than the Year 4 children. Furthermore, they think that their teachers accept them and have a positive opinion of them.
The paper also provides an overview of further correlations between the fields and analyses the effect of questionnaire fields on reading, maths and reasoning tasks. We also set up a model which shows the possible effect of questionnaire fields on cognitive tasks. We consider our contribution significant in offering a comprehensive view of lower primary school children entering the upper years.