Dissecting sequences of regulation and cognition: Statistical discourse analysis of primary school children's collaborative learning


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Extending past research showing that regulative activities (metacognitive and relational) can aid learning, this study tests whether sequences of cognitive, metacognitive and relational activities affect subsequent cognition. Scaffolded by a computer avatar, 54 primary school students (working in 18 groups of 3) discussed writing a report about a foreign country for 51,338 turns. Statistical discourse analysis (SDA) of these sequences of talk showed that after low cognition, high cognition, planning or evaluation, both low and high cognition were more likely (some effects lasted 6 conversation turns). After monitoring or positive relational activities (confirm, engage), low cognition was more likely. After a denial however, high cognition was less likely. These results suggest that metacognitive planning organizes subsequent cognitive activities and facilitates the transition between acquisition of knowledge and meaning making, while relational activities help enact them. These insights can inform micro-temporal theories of social regulation and shared knowledge construction. Copyright © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-160
JournalMetacognition and Learning
Issue number2
Early online dateOct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014



Molenaar, I., & Chiu, M. M. (2014). Dissecting sequences of regulation and cognition: statistical discourse analysis of primary school children’s collaborative learning. Metacognition and learning, 9(2), 137-160.


  • Metacognition
  • Temporal analysis
  • Collaborative learning
  • Scaffolding
  • Process analysis
  • Elementary education
  • Discourse analysis