This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the Relationship between Metacognitive Awareness and Learning Approaches among Direct-pathway and Adult Graduate Students




Shi, Yuewei

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



This study explored the relationship between metacognitive awareness and learning approaches by focusing on direct-pathway and adult graduate students (adult learners). Differences between metacognitive awareness and learning approaches of these two different groups of learners were examined by analysis of data from a self-reporting survey. The survey was based on questions from two expert surveys, the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory and the Approaches (MAI) and the Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST). Surveys were provided to students who participated in two social media groups that focused on adult learners in graduate programs. Over 700 participants responded, with 523 completing the survey for a 71.3% response rate. All of the students were enrolled in graduate programs in the United States during the 2021-2022 academic year. These survey results were used as data to examine four core research questions designed to determine if the two groups differed in their metacognition and/or learning approaches. The data were analyzed using independent t-tests and Pearson correlation coefficients. The findings from this research were that adult graduate students had significantly higher levels of overall metacognitive awareness, knowledge about regulation, and regulation of cognition than direct-pathway graduate students. The learning approaches showed that direct-pathway graduate students were more likely to use the surface learning approach, whereas responses from adult graduate students indicated that they were more likely to favor higher levels of strategic and deep learning approaches. Given the observed differences, it seems important that instructors and curriculum designers of graduate offerings should consider structuring course work to maximize individual learning by both groups. Suggestions for achieving these goals are discussed in the closing chapter.