The role of metacognition in explaining the relationship between early adversity and reading comprehension

Amanda M. Ferrara, Carlomagno C. Panlilio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The present study investigated the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and reading comprehension as well as the relationship between current trauma symptoms and reading comprehension. Each of these relationships were investigated as being mediated by academic metacognition (i.e., knowledge and regulation of cognition while completing learning tasks) and maladaptive metacognition (i.e., a lack of confidence in cognitions, positive beliefs about worry, cognitive self-consciousness, negative beliefs about the uncontrollability of thoughts, and beliefs about the need to control thoughts). A self-report survey asked undergraduate students (N = 179) about their adverse experiences prior to age 18, current trauma symptoms, academic metacognition, and maladaptive metacognition. In addition, students completed a reading comprehension task. Results from a path analysis indicated adverse childhood experiences were not directly or indirectly related to reading comprehension. However, trauma symptomology was indirectly related to reading comprehension. Specifically, this relationship was mediated by maladaptive metacognition, but not academic metacognition. Taken together, these results suggest that students’ trauma symptoms may be an important factor in predicting academic achievement, rather than simply students’ exposure to adversity. In particular, students who demonstrate trauma symptoms may be more likely to engage in maladaptive metacognition, leading to lower performance on reading comprehension tasks. This study suggests that practitioners working with students demonstrating trauma symptoms should be aware of students’ use of maladaptive metacognition, which may impede their academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104884
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - May 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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