Investigating the complexities of academic success: personality constrains the effects of metacognition

Danielle Kelly, David . Donaldson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metacognition refers to thinking about thinking, reflecting self-awareness about one’s cognitive abilities. Metacognition has long been considered a core element of academic success because higher metacognitive ability allows individuals to be efficient learners. In reality, however, developments in our understanding of metacognition have not been adequate to support changes in educational practice. Theoretical models typically focus on two facets; knowledge and regulation. Critically, these models do not consider how individual differences, such as personality, impact on learning – despite a robust body of research indicating that personality also influences academic performance. The current paper asks whether there is a relationship between metacognition, personality and academic success. To address this issue we carried out a pilot study exploring the hypothesis that metacognition and personality interact to influence academic success. One hundred and twenty five university students completed the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) and the NEO-Five Factor Inventory. Participants also provided demographic information including age, gender, year and area of study. Findings support the importance of both metacognition and personality for learning outcomes, but importantly, suggest a significant interaction between metacognition and conscientiousness. Our data provide a novel insight into the role of metacognition in successful academic performance: personality constrains the value of metacognition – only when students are high in conscientiousness does metacognition predict academic grades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
JournalThe Psychology of Education Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2016


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