Metacognition, Motivation and Emotions: Contribution of Self-Regulated Learning to Solving Mathematical Problems

  • Meirav Tzohar-Rozen Levinsky College of Education
  • Bracha Kramarski Bar-Ilan University


Mathematical problem solving is among the most valuable aspects of mathematics education. It is also the hardest for elementary school students (Verschaffel, Greer & De Corte, 2000). Students experience cognitive and metacognitive difficulties in this area and develop negative emotions and poor motivation which hamper their efforts (Kramarski, Weiss, & Kololshi-Minsker, 2010).  9–11 seems the critical stage for developing attitudes and emotional reactions towards mathematics (Artino, 2009). These metacognitive and motivational-emotional factors are fundamental components of Self-Regulated Learning (SRL), a non-innate process requiring systematic, explicit student training (Pintrich, 2000; Zimmerman, 2000).

Most self-regulation studies relating to problem-solving focus on metacognition. Few explore the motivational-emotional component. This study aimed to develop, examine, and compare two SRL interventions dealing with two additional components of self-regulation: metacognitive regulation (MC) and motivational-emotional regulation (ME). It also sought to examine the significance of these components and their contribution to learners' problem-solving achievements and self-regulation. The study examined 118 fifth grade students, randomly assigned to two groups. Pre- and post-intervention, the two groups completed self-regulation questionnaires relating to metacognition, motivation, and emotion. They also solved arithmetic series problems presented in two ways (verbal form and numeric form). After intervention we also examined a novel transfer problem. The intervention consisted of 10 hours for 5 weeks. Following the intervention the groups exhibited similar improvements across all the problems. The MC group performed best in metacognitive self-regulation and the ME group performed best in certain motivational-emotional aspects of self-regulation. Research implications are discussed.