Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Languages and Cultures

First Advisor

Jessica Sturm

Committee Chair

Jessica Sturm

Committee Member 1

April Ginther

Committee Member 2

Atsushi Fukada

Committee Member 3

Mariko Wei


The goal of the present study was to investigate the instructional potential of metacognitive strategies to improve listening comprehension and the automaticity of listening processes. Metacognition can be described as focusing attention on the cognitive processes one is currently using. In the classroom, metacognitive listening instruction means guiding learners in applying metacognition to learning by monitoring the mental strategies they use while listening, evaluating the relative success of these strategies, and planning for future listening experiences. I argue that providing students with these tools to monitor and regulate the perceptual and cognitive processes involved in listening contributes significantly to building toward the automaticity of those processes, leading to improved performance and reduced reaction time on listening assessments. In order to test this hypothesis, a pretest—treatment—posttest design was adopted and seven intact sections of second-semester French were randomly assigned to the control or experimental condition. The experimental groups were instructed in using metacognitive strategies to regulate the listening process while the control groups were simply exposed to the listening passages and asked to verify comprehension. Results showed that treatment condition alone did not account for improvement in listening comprehension or automaticity. Differences were found, however, based on initial listening proficiency and metacognitive awareness: low proficiency learners in both conditions outperformed all high proficiency learners in listening gains over time. Initial level of metacognitive awareness had a significant impact on gains in listening performance, indicating that the learners in the experimental group who began the study with low metacognitive awareness achieved higher gains in listening. This suggests that increasing metacognitive awareness through instruction is effective in improving listening comprehension. A potential ceiling effect was indicated, however, since those who began the study with high metacognitive awareness in the control condition improved their listening more than those in the experimental condition. An analysis of reaction time gain scores suggested that automaticity was not affected by initial listening proficiency. On the other hand, it was the learners in the control condition with low initial metacognitive awareness who decreased their reaction time compared to other subgroups over the course of the study, suggesting that metacognitive abilities are indeed related to automaticity. On the whole, these results indicate that initial level of metacognitive awareness has a differential impact on listening comprehension gains as well as reaction time. This supports the idea that increasing metacognition can help learners to improve listening skills; however, further research must be done in order to clarify the nature of these interrelationships.