Pedagogic Research ResultsHelp
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Metacognitive Self-Regulation and Comprehensive Testing in Intermediate Spanish
For the past 2‐3 years I have experimented with comprehensive testing in Intermediate Spanish classes, based on the strong hunch that such testing promotes deep learning and leads to better retention. Research on memory recall and testing suggests that frequent testing and repeated retrieval from memory lead to better performance on tests (see Karpicke and Roediger). My goal was to see if this held true in Intermediate Spanish and to see if there might be a relationship between comprehensive testing and metacognitive self‐monitoring. Might one of comprehensive testing's benefits for learning and retention be that it stimulates reflective practices, such as self‐testing, which in turn lead students to perform better on subsequent tests?
Metacognitive Assignments in Biology
This research project focused on the role of metacognitive assignments in two different biology courses. Many students can and do perform strongly in our biology classes. Others consistently struggle to get through courses despite a strong initial interest in the sciences. Some of these students also happen to be financially needy students from groups typically underrepresented in the sciences. Despite strong efforts, informal observations seem to indicate that biology often loses these students to other majors in the first several semesters of their biology courses. In order to target students that may often be less prepared for their science courses, I worked with two non-majors biology "Bridge" classes (during August of 2009 and 2010) designed for incoming SSS (Student Support Services) students to give them a head start on their academics as they enter St. Olaf as freshman.
"The Pod" Collaboration
Holly Swyers, Lake Forest College
At Lake Forest College, we are in the midst of revisiting First Year Studies and are looking at ways to improve students' transitions to college and to engage them in the liberal arts mission of the college. At the initial Teagle-sponsored workshop that led to the Collegium, three faculty members learned about recent scholarship on meta-cognition, aka thinking about how one learns. We could see potential value in having first year students become more aware of their own learning strategies and exposing them to new strategies. We also were struck by research that shows that students have difficulty seeing the interconnectedness of different facets of college life (academics, athletics, residence living, etc). With these issues in mind, we created a "pod" of first studies classes, described below under "context." We hoped to investigate the following questions: To what extent can meta-cognition serve as a shared frame for engaging students across disciplines and college roles? How does close collaboration between faculty members and other college professionals affect the experience of first year students?
The Use of Metacognitive Prompts in a Sampling-Distribution Exercise
In introductory statistics, the idea of a sampling distribution is an essential building block, yet a conceptually difficult idea for students. It's a slippery idea that students blithely think they understand, yet struggle to explain. Bingo! This appeared a juicy class space to add metacognitive prompts. Specifically, I created a groupwork activity with problems centered on the sampling distribution of the mean. These problems incrementally asked for more metacognition from the students. I also created a short assessment to give both before and after the activity. Knowing the difficult nature of in‐class research, I still formed a challenging research question: Can a groupwork activity that engages students' metacognition improve students' understanding (based on test performance) about the sampling distribution of a sample average?
Better Learning Through Better Reading and Reflecting
Karl Wirth, Macalester College
Learning from texts is an essential skill for college success, and in an increasingly complex and interconnected world it is ever more important that students develop the intellectual and practical skills for lifelong learning. The aim of this project was to evaluate the impact of reading reflections on student reading, learning, and self-awareness as learners. Students submit reading reflections after completing each reading assignment. These reflections not only encourage students to read more regularly, they also promote content mastery and foster student development of monitoring, self-evaluation, and reflection skills. For the instructor, reading reflections can also be used to facilitate 'just-in-time' teaching. Our results thus far confirm that the introduction of reading reflections in our courses has resulted in significant improvements in student reading and course performance.
Reflective Responses to Piano Playing
Through reflective responses to their own piano playing, can students learn to pose useful questions that can be applied to improving their musical abilities?
Metacognition in Psychology
My project involved investigating two principle questions: Can metacognitive tools and measures aid introductory psychology students (first year students in particular) in the navigation, organization and mastery of course materials? Can responses to/choice of exam questions be used as a measure of metacognition? How does this measure compare to other standard measures, including knowledge surveys and exam wrappers?
Metacognition in Introductory General Chemistry
Can teaching metacognition strategies/behaviors mitigate the regression of student performance and attitudes in an introductory general chemistry course?
Metacognition and Exam Wrappers in Biology
Tim Tibbetts, Monmouth College
This research focuses on first-year, first-semester, prospective biology majors. Historically, these students encounter a challenge adjusting to college-level expectations. While we have recently revamped our introductory course sequence (2008), students have continued to struggle. After learning about metacognitive strategies at the November 2008 ACM Teagle Conference, I was interested in the following two questions: Will an introduction to metacognitive skills help students adjust to college-level biology course expectations? Will there be a difference in student performance when exam wrappers are explicitly included?
Student Confidence Levels in Writing
Maria Kelley, St. Olaf College
The goal of this project was to investigate the use of an adapted "exam wrapper" in conjunction with explicit instruction in metacognitive learning strategies in a first year writing course. The following questions guided my thinking: -What kinds of practical knowledge/skills and intuitive understanding do students bring to our classes? -What kind of confidence and personal/affective history do our students typically bring to our classes? -How do these understandings, confidence levels and histories contribute to/inform a student's sense of their success/ability as a writer? The central questions for the project were: -Does the use of metacognitive teaching and learning strategies such as exam or paper wrappers affect student confidence levels about writing? -Does the effect, if any, of using metacognitive strategies transfer to other courses and into the remainder of the academic year? I was also interested in learning if it is possible to help students develop what skills/intuitive understandings they may already bring to the college experience that may initially seem unhelpful or impractical. Some additional considerations for my project included: Can students learn to transfer knowledge/skills gained in other settings to an academic one? Is there such a thing as "other" prepared vs. under prepared? How might faculty improve teaching and learning by incorporating and addressing these "other" skill sets and understandings?
Reflective Judgment and Course Performance
Patricia Waters, Colorado College
This project examined links between students' metacognition and other learning strategies (MSLQ), reflective judgment, and their overall course performance in two undergraduate courses: A First Year Experience, two block (two-month) course and a one block upper division course. Student e-journal entries were coded for reflective judgment (RJ) at the beginning and end of each course, and questionnaires examining metacognition and other learning strategies were administered at the beginning and end of each course. Student in both courses were taught the developmental sequence of reflective judgment midway through the course. Upper division students demonstrated a higher level of reflective judgment in e-journal entries compared to First Year Experience students and their questionnaire responses indicated a greater sense of self-efficacy and greater control over their learning. Students in both courses increased in critical thinking skills from the beginning to the end of the courses.
The Metatweet: Using Twitter to Foster Self Reflection in the First College Course
Tony de Laubenfels, Cornell College
Research question: Are daily metacognitive tweets from each student an effective activity to promote self awareness and self regulation and overall enhanced learning processes for students beginning college? Do students view this attention to learning to learn valuable? The motivation for using Twitter to foster metacognition comes from "7 Things you should know about Twitter" Educause Learning Initiative, 2007: "Metacognitionthe practice of thinking about and reflecting on your learninghas been shown to benefit comprehension and retention. As a tool for students or professional colleagues to compare thoughts about a topic, Twitter can be a viable platform for metacognition, forcing users to be brief and to the pointan important skill in thinking clearly and communicating effectively."
Metacognitive Exam Wrappers in Latin 101
There is a fair amount of literature on metacognition in the area of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). The studies I read at the outset of the Collegium project all focused my attention on the elementary levels of our language sequences. Thus the question I started with was simply whether beginning-level Latin students would benefit from more explicit attention to possible learning strategies: whether encouraging metacognitive awareness and self-monitoring would in fact result in enhanced language learning.