Utilization of Monitoring Article List

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Hertzog, C. (in press). Aging and metacognitive control.  In J. Dunlosky & S. K. Tauber (Eds), Oxford Handbook of Metacognition.

ABSTRACT: This chapter reviews age differences in metacognitive control, defined as behaviors based on the monitoring of cognitive systems and states with the goal of improving the quality of cognition, especially the likelihood of successful remembering. Metacognitive monitoring and control are a promising means of improving older adults’ cognition and can compensate for age-related cognitive decline. A prototypical type of metacognitive control studied in aging research involves the self-testing procedure to guide allocation of study time and strategic effort. Studies of self-testing suggest that older adults often fail to use this strategy even though it can be highly effective for them, as confirmed by studies that instruct or train its use. Evidence regarding age differences in metacognitive control using more complicated multi-trial learning tasks is mixed. I argue this literature is still in its formative stages and that age differences in observed metacognitive control should not be taken as signifying irremediable aging-related deficits, often being an outcome of negative but inaccurate memory self-concept. Issues with the existing body of evidence and suggestions for future research questions are highlighted.


Hertzog, C., & Dunlosky, J. (2011). Metacognition in later adulthood: Spared monitoring can benefit older adults’ self-regulation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 167-173.

ABSTRACT: Metacognition includes two key concepts: monitoring of internal states and adaptive use of control strategies based on that monitoring. We review studies that indicate that aging does not materially affect the accuracy of elementary forms of monitoring encoding and retrieval states in episodic-memory tasks, even though it does influence episodic memory itself. Spared monitoring accuracy can therefore serve as a basis for older adults’ use of compensatory strategies to achieve learning goals despite the influence of aging on mechanisms of learning. Metacognitive-intervention studies based on this premise show greater effects on learning than do traditional strategy-training approaches. Use of strategies for self-regulation, informed by monitoring, may be an important tool for older adults’ effective cognitive functioning in everyday life.

External Link: PMID:24478539


Cavallini, E., Dunlosky, J., Bottiroli, S., Hertzog, C., & Vecchi, T. (2010). Promoting transfer in memory training for older adults.Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 22, 314-323.

Background and aims: Many studies have focused on memory training in aging, showing that older adults can improve their performance. Unfortunately, the benefits of training can rarely be generalized to other tasks for which adults were not specifically trained. We investigated the benefits of instruction- based training in promoting transfer effects in older adults. Methods: In Experiment 1, we evaluated transfer effects in a training group who practiced using standard mnemonics to learn paired associates and word lists, and this group was given instructions about how the mnemonics could be used for two of the four transfer tasks (text learning, name-face learning, grocery list learning, place learning). In Experiment 2, we com- pared transfer effects for two different training groups: one practiced the strategies with the two trained tasks and did not receive instructions, and the other had the same practice but also received instructions on all the transfer tasks. Results: Transfer in text learning occurred in both experiments. This transfer is particularly interesting, as text learning was the most dissimilar task in terms of both the nature of the materials and the underlying processes that support performance. The transfer was reliably greater when training involved instructions about applicability than when it did not. Conclusions: Instructions to use practiced strategies on new materials may be a useful technique in promoting transfer in older adults. It seems that the lack of trans- fer does not necessarily arise from older adults’ in- abilities, but because they do not realize that trained strategies can (or should) be applied to new materials.

External Link:  doi: 10.3275/6704


Bottiroli, S., Dunlosky, J., Guerini, K., Cavallini, E., & Hertzog, C. (2010). Does strategy affordance moderate age-related deficits in strategy production? Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 17, 591-602.

ABSTRACT: According to the task-affordance hypothesis, people will be more likely to use a specific strategy as tasks more readily afford its use. To evaluate this hypothesis, we examined the degree to which older and younger adults used a self-testing strategy to learn items, because previous studies suggest that age-related differences in the use of this powerful strategy vary across tasks. These tasks (words affixed to a board vs. pairs on flashcards) differentially afford the use of the self-testing strategy and may moderate the age-related effects on strategy use. Participants performed a recall-readiness task in which they continued to study items until they were ready for the criterion test. As predicted, self testing was used less often on tasks that least afforded its use. Namely, participants used self testing less when they studied single words affixed to a board than when they studied pairs on flashcards. Most important, age-related deficits in strategy use were greater for the former task and nonexistent for the latter one, suggesting that task affordance moderates age differences in strategy use.

External Link: doi: 10.1080/13825585.2010.481356


Price, J., Hertzog, C., & Dunlosky, J. (2010). Self-regulated learning in younger and older adults: Does aging affect cognitive control? Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 17, 329-359.

ABSTRACT: Two experiments examined whether younger and older adults’ self-regulated study (item selection and study time) conformed to the region of proximal learning (RPL) model when studying normatively easy, medium, and difficult vocabulary pairs. Experiment 2 manipulated the value of recalling different pairs and provided learning goals for words recalled and points earned. Younger and older adults in both experiments selected items for study in an easy-to-difficult order, indicating the RPL model applies to older adults’ self-regulated study. Individuals allocated more time to difficult items, but prioritized easier items when given less time or point values favoring difficult items. Older adults studied more items for longer but realized lower recall than did younger adults. Older adults’ lower memory self-efficacy and perceived control correlated with their greater item restudy and avoidance of difficult items with high point values. Results are discussed in terms of RPL and agenda-based regulation models.

External Link: doi: 10.1080/13825580903287941


Bailey, H., Dunlosky, J., & Hertzog, C. (2010). Self-regulation training at home: Does it improve older adults’ learning?Gerontology, 56, 414-420.


Background: Previous research has described the success of an intervention aimed at improving older adults’ ability to regulate their learning. This metacognitive approach involves teaching older adults to allocate their study time more efficiently by testing themselves and restudying items that are less well-learned. Objective: Although this type of memory intervention has shown promise, training older adults to test themselves in the laboratory can be very time intensive. Thus, the purpose of the present study is to transport the self-testing training method from the laboratory to home use. Methods: A standard intervention design was used that included a pre-training session, multiple training sessions, and a post-training session. Participants were randomly assigned to either the training group (n = 29) or the waiting-list control group (n = 27). Moreover, we screened participants on whether they used the self-testing strategy during their pre-training test session. Results: Compared to the performance of the control group, the training group displayed significant gains, which demonstrates that older adults can benefit from training themselves to use these skills at home. Moreover, the results of the present study indicate that this metacognitive approach can effectively improve older adults’ learning, even for those who spontaneously self-test prior to training. Conclusions: Training metacognitive skills, such as self-testing and efficient study allocation, can improve the ability to learn new information for healthy older adults. More importantly, older adult clients can be supplied with an at-home training manual, which will ease the burden on practitioners.

External Link: doi: 10.1159/000266030


Hines, J.C., Touron, D.R., & Hertzog, C. (2009). Metacognitive influences on study time allocation in an associative recognition task: an analysis of adult age differences. Psychology and Aging, 24, 462-475.


ABSTRACT: The current study evaluated a metacognitive account of study time allocation, which argues that metacognitive monitoring of recognition test accuracy and latency influences subsequent strategic control and regulation. We examined judgments of learning (JOLs), recognition test confidence judgments (CJs), and subjective response time (RT) judgments by younger and older adults in an associative recognition task involving 2 study-test phases, with self-paced study in phase 2. Multi-level regression analyses assessed the degree to which age and metacognitive variables predicted phase 2 study time independent of actual test accuracy and RT. Outcomes supported the metacognitive account – JOLs and CJs predicted study time independent of recognition accuracy. For older adults with errant RT judgments, subjective retrieval fluency influenced response confidence as well as (mediated through confidence) subsequent study time allocation. Older adults studied items longer which had been assigned lower CJs, suggesting no age deficit in using memory monitoring to control learning.

External Link: doi: 10.1037/a0014417


Dunlosky, J., Cavallini, E., Roth, H., McGuire, C. L., Vecchi, T., & Hertzog C. (2007). Do self-monitoring interventions improve older adult learning? Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 62, 70-76.

ABSTRACT: We describe a self-monitoring approach for improving older adult learning that older adults can use in conjunction with more traditional mnemonic-based interventions. According to the self-monitoring approach, older adults can improve the effectiveness of learning by accurately monitoring their progress toward a learning goal and by using the output from such monitoring to allocate study time and to inform strategy selection. We review current evidence, which includes outcomes from two previously unpublished interventions, relevant to the efficacy of this approach. Both interventions demonstrated performance gains in memory performance after self-monitoring training, although these training gains did not exceed gains obtained through standard mnemonic training. Our discussion highlights both successes and failures of self-monitoring to enhance learning as well as challenges for future research.

External Link: PMID:17565167

Dunlosky, J., Hertzog, C., Kennedy, M., & Thiede, K. (2005). The Self-Monitoring Approach for Effective Learning. Cognitive Technology, 10, 4-11.


ABSTRACT: People often seek techniques that can enhance their learning and retention of important materials. Whereas popular techniques focus on how to increase the effectiveness of memorization by using mnemonics, the self-monitoring approach attempts to enhance people’s learning vis-à-vis the use of accurate monitoring to regulate study. As such, this approach may complement existing mnemonic techniques by helping students to identify which materials have not been well learned and hence require further study. The promise of this self-monitoring approach is illustrated by evidence from three independent lines of research, which demonstrate that the use of accurate monitoring can improve learning for individuals with varying abilities and across different kinds of material.

External Link: PsychINFO


Dunlosky, J. T., Kubat-Silman, A. K. & Hertzog, C. (2003). Training monitoring skills improves older adults’ self-paced associative learning.  Psychology and Aging, 18, 340-345.

ABSTRACT: We investigated a memory-enhancement program that involved teaching older adults to regulate study through self testing. A regulation group was taught standard strategies along with self-testing techniques for identifying less-well learned items that could benefit from extra study. This group was compared to a strategy-control group that were taught only strategies and to a waiting-list control group. Greater training gains were shown for the regulation group (effect size, d = .72) than for the strategy-control (d = .28) and waiting-list control (d = .03) groups, indicating that training a monitoring skill–self testing–can improve older adults’ learning.

External Link: PMID:12825781


Dunlosky, J. T., & Hertzog, C. (1998).  Training programs to improve learning in later adulthood: Helping older adults educate themselves.  In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in educational theory and practice (pp. 249-275). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


ABSTRACT: We review findings in the literature regarding aging and metacognitive monitoring, strategy use, and learning. The central thesis is that aging does not impair the ability to monitor ongoing learning, even though it has an adverse impact on learning itself. Given that older adults are able to monitor their learning, the argument developed in this chapter is that they can potentially benefit from the strategic use of monitoring to control or regulate their learning. This involves the use of self-testing as a metacognitively oriented strategy — actually testing one’s learning and then adjusting learning strategies based on the self-testing. Existing training programs for older adults have focused almost exclusively on strategy training, with or without cognitive restructuring of dysfunctional beliefs about the nature of aging and its effects on memory. We argue that existing training programs should be expanded to included metacognitive training, so that older adults are encouraged to monitor the effectiveness of strategies by self-testing, and to then adapt their strategic behavior (for example, by allocating more time and effort to study the information they have not yet mastered).

External Link: PsychINFO


Dunlosky, J., & Hertzog, C. (1997).  Older and younger adults use a functionally identical algorithm to select items for restudy during multi-trial learning. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 52, 178-186.


We investigated whether aging affects several components of how people select items for study during multitrial learning. Younger and older adults studied paired-associate items and then made delayed judgments of learning (JOLs). Immediately after making a JOL for an item, some participants decided whether to restudy the item on subsequent trials; for other participants, the computer selected for restudy the items that had been judged as least-well learned. Next, paired-associate recall occurred, which was followed by restudy-test trials. As expected, age differences occurred in recall on the first trial, and this difference was propagated across trials. In contrast to the hypothesis that older adults would be more conservative in selecting items, both age groups selected to restudy (a) the items that they had rated as least-well learned and (b) the majority of items that would not be recalled on the first trial. Comparisons between participants who self-selected items vs the groups in which the computer controlled selection also converged on the conclusion of age equivalence in processes underlying item selection.

External Link: PMID:9224442