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The Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience
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The Effect of Metaconceptual Teaching Activities on Students' Understanding of Liquids and Solids and Self-Effıcacy Toward Chemistry


by Zubeyde Demet Kirbulut, College of Education and Human Services, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

During the last three decades metacognition has become one of the major fields of cognitive development. Metacognition research began with John Flavell's metamemory study Flavell, 1971). Over the years, different definitions (for example, Brown, 1987; Flavell, 1979; Rickey & Stacy, 2000) and taxonomies of metacognition (for example, Flavell, 1979; Schraw & Moshman, 1995; Pintrich, Wolters & Baxter, 2000) have been emerged in the literature. Flavell (1979) defined metacognition as "knowledge and cognition about cognitive phenomena" (p. 906). According to Brown (1987), metacognition referred to "one's knowledge and control of own cognitive system" (p. 66). Rickey and Stacy (2000) interpreted metacognition as "thinking about one's own thinking" (p. 915). Many taxonomies of metacognition were proposed by researchers. For example, according to Flavell (1979), the components of metacognition consisted of "metacognitive knowledge" and "metacognitive experience". Pintrich, Wolters and Baxter (2000) proposed another taxonomy for metacognition consisted of metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive judgments and monitoring, and self-regulation and control of cognition. In the literature, it was pointed out that metacognition is a complex and multidimensional construct (for example, Brown, 1987; Flavell, 1987; Georghiades, 2004). Brown (1987) reported two problems related to metacognition. The first problem was the obscurity about what is "meta" and what is "cognitive". The second one is the historical roots of metacognition. Flavell (1987) mentioned about a set of questions concerning metacognition such as "What kinds of psychological concepts are related to metacognition? What aspects of metacognition are inherent and what aspects must be acquired in the course of childhood, adolescence, or even during the adult years? How might various types of metacognition develop?" The evaluation of metacognition is another problematic issue. Many methods for the assessment of metacognition are being used, such as questionnaires, interviews, the analysis of thinking-aloud protocol), and observations. All these assessment methods have their pros and cons. In order to understand this disparity between various assessment methods, multi-method designs are needed (Veenman & Spaans, 2005). Although many obscurities exist related to metacognition as mentioned above, the importance of it in learning is not questioned. Flavell (1979) indicated the important role of metacognition in oral communication skills, reading comprehension, writing, attention, memory, problem solving, social cognition, and various types of self-control and self-instruction. Following this study, Flavell (1987) suggested that "good schools should be hotbeds of metacognitive development" (p. 27). Metacognition is widely believed to make students responsible for their learning, hence more actively involved in the learning process, and there is growing literature advocating positive impact of metacognitive activity on student thinking skills and conceptual understanding (Adey, Shayer & Yates; 1989; Beeth, 1998; Hennessey, 1999; Hewson, Beeth, & Thorley, 1998; Vosniadou, 2008).

The purpose of my study will be to examine the effectiveness of metaconceptual teaching activities on 10th grade students' conceptual understanding of liquids and solids, self-efficacy toward chemistry and durability of their conceptions compared to traditional instruction. Furthermore, the nature of the students' metaconceptual processes will be examined. Therefore, in this study, a multi-method research design including quasi-experimental design and case study design will be used. To examine the effect of metaconceptual teaching activities on dependent variables, two weeks before the treatment, the two instruments Liquids and Solids Concept Test (LSCT) and Self-efficacy Scale toward Chemistry will be administered to students in experimental and control groups. Also, they will be given at the end of the treatment. In addition, LSCT will be given eight weeks after the treatment to examine the durability of students' conceptions. In the experimental and control groups, the tasks such as demonstrations, laboratory experiments, and quantitative problem-solving will be used. On the other hand, there will be some differences in the use of these tasks. In the experimental group, in order to facilitate students' engagement in metaconceptual knowledge and processes several types of instructional activities such as poster drawing, journal writing, small group discussion and whole group discussion will be employed. In the control groups, the teacher will teach with the traditional method. Students in the experimental groups will be taught by metacognitive teaching activities. In order to test the null hypotheses, statistical technique named multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) will be used. In case study design, the data will be collected from multiple sources such as video recordings of classroom discussions, audio recordings of group discussions, posters, concept maps of the students, and interviews before and after the instructional activities.

This research has potential to inform teachers and teacher educators about the teaching strategies used to promote students' engagement in metaconceptual processes to facilitate conceptual understanding and contribute to a better understanding of the individual students' metaconceptual processes. In addition, this research may lead to understanding of the effect of the metaconceptual teaching activities on students' self-efficacy toward chemistry as a school subject.

Finally, some aspects of metacognition that need to be considered at the workshop could be the discussion on the term itself, how accurately we can assess metacognition, how we can use metacognitive teaching activities effectively in the classroom and how metacognition can be integrated curriculum effectively.

References Cited

Adey, P., Shayer, M., & Yates, C. (1989). Cognitive acceleration: The effects of two years of intervention in science classes. In P. Adey, J. Bliss, J. Head & M. Shayer (Eds.), Adolescent development and school science (pp. 240-247). London: Falmer Press.

Brown, A. (1987). Metacognition, executive control, self-regulation, and other more mysterious mechanisms. In F. E. Weinert & R. H. Kluwe, (Eds.), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (pp. 65-116). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Flavell, J. H. (1971). First discussant's comment: What is memory development the development of? Human Development, 14, 272-278.

Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive-developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911.

Flavell, J. H. (1987). Speculations about the nature and development of metacognition. In F. E. Weinert & R. H. Kluwe, (Eds.), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (pp. 21-29). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Georghiades, P. (2004). From the general to the situated: Three decades of metacognition. International Journal of Science Education, 26(3), 365-383.

Hennessey, M. G. (1999, April). Probing the dimensions of metacognition: Implications for conceptual change teaching-learning. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Boston, MA.

Hewson, P.W., Beeth, M.E., & Thorley, N.R. (1998) Teaching for conceptual change. In K.G. Tobin & B.J. Fraser (Eds.), International Handbook of Science Education (pp. 199-218). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer.

Pintrich, P. R., Wolters, C. A., & Baxter, G. P. (2000). Assessing metacognition and self-regulated learning. In G. Schraw & J. C. Impara (Eds.), Issues in the measurement of metacognition (pp. 43-97). Lincoln, NE: The University of Nebraska Press.

Rickey, D., & Stacy, A. M. (2000). The role of metacognition in learning chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 77, 915-920.

Schraw, G., & Moshman, D. (1995). Metacognitive theories. Educational Psychology Review, 7, 351-371.

Veenman, M. V. J., & Spaans, M. A. (2005). Relation between intellectual and metacognitive skills: Age and task differences. Learning and Individual Differences, 15, 159–176.

Vosniadou, S., Vamvakoussi, X., & Skopeliti, I. (2008). The framework theory approach to the problem of conceptual change. In S. Vosniadou (Eds.), International handbook of research on conceptual change (pp. 3-34). Routledge: New York.


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