Initial Publication Date: November 21, 2008

Think Aloud Pair Problem Solving for Geoscience Faculty Development

Contributors: Ron Narode, Erin Peters, Helen King, Mimi Fuhrman, Annia Fayon, Kaatje Kraft
Developed at the 2008 workshop, The Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience.

Course level: any

Description of the metacognitive tactic:
Asking a question that has multiple ways of expressing the answer. Answering this specific question would illustrate the use of 'multiple working hypotheses' technique and geoscientists' habits of mind, such as:

1. What caused the mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary?
2. How do we know how old the earth is?
3. How do we know the continents have changed through time?
4. Why do we think the Grand Canyon sequence represents environmental change through time?
5. How do you explain the sequence of layers in the Grand Canyon?

Part 1 is described in the activity, Metacognition Training through Think-Aloud Pair Problem Solving [TAPPS]: Two Lessons about Rivers
Part 2. This involves a debriefing of the exercise to increase participant's awareness of what they have actually been doing. The facilitator needs to draw attention to the 'metacognizing' in the room.

As part of this exercise, faculty need to describe what it was like to be in each role - the problem solver and the listener.

Goals for using this tactic

  • Learning goals:
    The learning goal for this tactic is for geoscience faculty to become aware of their own thought process. During the activity such that faculty will be more likely to model the thinking in their own classrooms.
  • Self-regulation goals:
    Faculty have become experts in their problem solving such that their thinking process has become automatized. This activity will allow them to deconstruct that thinking process.

How this tactic helps students meet that goal:
See descriptions above.

Additional references or resources:
Metacognitive Variables, Problems, and Solutions

See more examples of strategies for teaching metacognition