The Relation Between Young Children's Memory and Metacognition
Prospective memory, the ability to remember to carry out future intentions (PM; Einstein & McDaniel, 1990) is a critical skill in children’s daily lives. Despite this, little is known about children’s awareness of their own PM ability and how this might be affected by the difficulty of a PM task. The current study sought to examine the effect of task difficulty on children’s predictions, postdictions, and actual PM performance. Four-to 6-year-old children (N = 132) completed an easy or difficult PM task and made predictions and postdictions before and after the task. Results showed that: (1) children’s PM increased with age and was worse in the difficult condition, (2) PM predictions and postdictions did not vary with age but PM postdictions were more accurate than PM predictions, and (3) PM postdictions were affected by difficulty of the PM task with children reporting having remembered to carry out their intention fewer times in the difficult compared to the easy condition. Overall, children’s PM postdictions were more accurate than their predictions, and difficulty of a PM task only affected children’s reflections (and not predictions) of their PM performance.