Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeannine M. Fontaine, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lynne B. Alvine, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Lilia P. Savova, Ph.D.


This study looks at cases of 'reflection‘ where the subject or topic in question involves an individual‘s focusing on her own learning, metalinguistic development, and cognitive processes such as regulation and control of cognitive functions including selection, application and awareness of learning strategies. The study shows what advanced graduate students do metacognitevely in reflective documents, and how they have come to understand metacognitive reflection, including in reflective assignments, as part of their learning process. The qualitative design chosen for the present study uses data gathered in individual and focus group interviews and through document analysis (using a select group of written documents produced by the participant graduate students in response to assignments they perceive as 'reflective‘). The design of the study was also informed by the results of two restricted pilot studies (survey and interview based), conducted in 2005 and 2006. The results obtained from the data analysis showed that 1) narrative plays an important role in supporting metacognitive reflection; 2) certain types of reflective assignments and the ways they are structured or set up can produce highly rewarding metacognitive reflections; 3) the benefits of metacognition for successful learning were clearly recognized by all study participants; 4) reflection goes through several stages, which were identified in classic research done in the 1980s; 5) emotions trigger and facilitate learning; and 6) scaffolding is desirable in teaching students reflective and metacognitive skills. This study is intended as a contribution to the research about graduate students‘ beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and experiences, with reflective assignments in academia. It indicates that metacognitive reflection is a "developing expertise" which takes considerable time and experience to evolve. It is hoped that the results will help educators to create a literate and informative account of reflection and to model their own practice in ways that encourage reflective practice among their students. This study also provides important insights and suggestions for future research which might be of substantial benefit for helping students and educators pursue related topics in the coming years.