You are here:

Progress monitoring in young learners: Exploring how young children detect occasions to monitor

, Harvard University, United States

Harvard University . Awarded


As learners participate in tasks, they often miss instances when progress monitoring would be useful, resulting in their overlooking lapses in progress and opportunities to improve performance (Markman, 1979). This is particularly true in the case of young children (Baker, 1985). One reason why learners fail to monitor may lie in their inability to recognize, or be sensitive to, situations that provide the occasion for self-monitoring (Perkins, Jay, & Tishman, 1993). This study explored what lies beneath young learners' successful and unsuccessful detection of instances to monitor progress by examining the spontaneous monitoring patterns of first-graders as they constructed computer-simulated towns that they perceived to be good places for people to live.

According to one model, learners' expectations of what will occur during a task and their ability to selectively attend to relevant aspects of the task environment are important to being able to sense those situations in which progress monitoring would be useful (Yenkin, 1997). This model formed a valuable framework for examining learners' sensitivity. Careful attention was paid to the particular expectations children held for a successful town and how these expectations and the visual salience of events that arose during the construction task impacted the events learners monitored.

Qualitative case studies provided a detailed picture of children's progress monitoring from each child's vantage point. Case studies were based upon pre-observation interviews, observations of participants as they built their towns, online probes during the activity, and follow-up interviews. To explore the impact of learners' task expectations and visual salience of task events on progress monitoring, scaffolding of these two variables was varied methodically across observation sessions of three comparison groups.

This study uncovered three key factors that together impacted how children monitored their progress as they constructed their towns: (1)  learners' task expectations framed which occasions participants perceived as relevant to their progress and which events they used to monitor their towns' development; (2) noticed details had the potential to guide participants' monitoring of their towns when the children linked these details to their task expectations or interests; and (3)  interest in screen events amplified learners' monitoring behaviors.


Yenkin, L. Progress monitoring in young learners: Exploring how young children detect occasions to monitor. Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University. Retrieved November 18, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or