Meta-strategic learning refers to a mediated construction of knowledge regarding when, why and how to apply a group of strategies for accomplishing cognitive tasks. This study examined the effect of meta-strategic learning of structure strategies on reading comprehension of expository texts by secondary school students under whole-class instruction conditions. The effect of a meta-strategic intervention program was compared to that of a strategic program, which focused on a direct (unmediated) instruction of how to apply each structure strategy separately, and to a control group. Moreover, we explored the role of students’ engagement in class discussions and tasks in meta-strategic learning. Three structure strategies using texts from three school domains were taught during 9 double lessons. Programs’ effectiveness was examined by near- and far-transference reading comprehension tasks, and a strategic knowledge questionnaire given before and after intervention. Findings indicated that both programs were similarly effective in enhancing students’ reading comprehension skills and strategic knowledge. The unique benefits of meta-strategic learning were apparent particularly for high-engaged students in far-transference tasks and for all students in overt application of strategic elements during task completion. More research is required to explore further benefits for meta-strategic learning in small groups and over the long-term.
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