Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Elder, Anastasia D.

Committee Member

Wei, Tianlan

Committee Member

Javorsky, Kristin

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 6 months

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Educational Psychology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Self-regulated learning (SRL) and higher-order thinking (metacognitive processes) are important in education because they contribute to effective learning and improved academic performance. These processes may be facilitated by the implementation of computer technology in the classroom. This research project examined the use of computer technology among elementary school students and possible effects on self-regulated learning and metacognitive processes, including the ability to plan, monitor, evaluate one’s own work, and apply specific learning strategies. Two main research questions were investigated: (1) Do elementary school students demonstrate SRL metacognitive processes when they use computers and paper-pencil for reading-relating tasks, and what are the key SRL metacognitive processes? (2) Are there differences in SRL metacognitive processes between computer-based and paper-pencil reading tasks in elementary grades? Recruitment of students occurred at the local school district’s after-school programs. A total of 52 students from Grades 2-5 consented to participate in two conditions, a computer-based and a paper-pencil reading task, each lasting approximately 30 minutes. Observations, ratings, and semi-structured interviews were conducted. The quantitative portion included descriptive and correlational statistics. Differences in SLR metacognitive constructs between conditions and between grades were explored. Inferential statistics employed a 2 x 4 (condition-by-grade) mixed-model Analysis of Variance and follow-up tests. The qualitative portion included primary analytic strategies, thematic analysis, and triangulation across data sources. The results indicated that metacognitive self-regulated learning skills were present in students of primary grades. There were no differences between grades or between conditions for most regulation of cognition constructs except for control and evaluation practices. Among knowledge of cognition constructs, conditional knowledge was higher in the paper than in the computer reading assignment across grades. The qualitative findings corroborated the quantitative results. Students in primary grades demonstrated SRL metacognitive processes, and these were more common in the paper than in the computer condition. These findings are explained by the familiarity with the reading medium, the integration of multimedia and verbal cues, the speed for corrective actions, and the use of prior knowledge. These important insights can contribute to improved academic performance and higher order thinking among young students. The results also suggest that students can benefit from focused instruction to perform transfer of knowledge between the two reading formats - computer and paper.


Mississippi State University Office of Research and Economic Development