A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Metacognitive Reflection, Emotional Regulation, and Career Decision-Making in Undergraduate Students



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The purpose of the present study was to explore the phenomenon of metacognitive reflection relation to career/vigilant decision-making processes and life satisfaction among college students. Based on a blending framework, this study recognizes metacognitive reflection as a derivative of metacognitive processes and emotional content (e.g. intellective, perseverative, with positive or negative emotional valence) occurring on a spectrum from unreflective, to reflective, to perseverative. Data were gathered from undergraduate students at various stages of academic standing (N = 495). A concurrent mixed-methods research design was utilized. The quantitative data were derived from established and highly validated scales. Results of the regression analysis emotional regulation and metacognition predict reflection. Moreover, metacognition was found to fully mediate the relationship between reflection and vigilant decision-making processes. Similarly, a one-way MANOVA revealed the aforementioned variables were significantly related to emotional regulation levels. The qualitative data were derived from a total of (N = 17) in-depth interviews. Thematic coding and analysis yielded new perspectives that extend the breadth and scope of the phenomenon of metacognitive reflection in relation to emotions, and career decision-making processes. In light of the mixed-methods results, theoretical and practical implications and a conceptual model for what comprises metacognitive reflection is provided. Keywords: metacognition, reflection, metacognitive reflection, career/major decision-making, emotional regulation, cognitive reappraisal, thought content valence, vigilant decision-making