Initial Publication Date: February 24, 2009

Metacognitive Learning Strategies in All Classes

Contributors: Saundra McGuire, Dave Gosselin, Martha Mamo, Mary Anne Holmes, Jenefer Husman, Sandra Rutherford, Sister Gertrude Hennessey, Ji-Sook Han, Wumi Alabi, Demet Kirbulut

Course level: Introductory level

Description of the metacognitive tactic: To introduce and make students aware of strategies to determine organizational structure of information.

Goals for using this tactic

  • Learning goals:
    The overall goal is for students to develop their own organizational structure tactics for each content area. e.g concept mapping, outlines, reflection, advance organizers (pre-task questions)
  • Self-regulation goals:
    This tactic supports metacognition, motivation

Steps to doing this strategy:

  1. At the first class session do an activity (e.g. count the vowels) that will model how organizational strategies are effective at mastering material.
  2. Assign a reading activity and give students a quiz on the material. Then have students organize the information in some way that is meaningful for them, and then give another quiz. Have them reflect on the difference in their thinking between the first and second administrations of the quiz.
  3. After the first assessment (exam or quiz) in class the instructor will do another activity. Task Unknown, Shirley's activity, etc. The instructor will then model and explain a few organizational tactics, such as concept mapping, KWL, and outlining, and apply to a geoscience phenomenon. The reading assignments will become increasingly more sophisticated and complex, and students will continue to organize the information in the way that makes sense to them. Students will be encouraged to try different organizational tactics. They can reflect on which tactics worked better in different contexts, and why they think these tactics worked better in the specific situations. They will be analyzing their own thinking over time.

Activities that support the development of this metacognitive skill:

A. Unknown task exercise: the purpose is to help students to experience the impact this metacognitive strategy to look at the overview or the big picture before you are getting the details.

B. Reading probes (quizzes or questions): the purpose is to help students overview the material before they come to class.

C. Student-generated questions from the overview or reading that they did.

D. Post-lecture student questions: The students attend the lecture and at the end write down a question on a card. Then it can be handed in to the instructor who will post a few of the questions on the overhead or in PowerPoint to be answered at the beginning of the next class. Students can exchange cards with another student and try to answer the other student's question before the next class period. This fosters a sense of community among the students in the class, and helps students develop increased self-efficacy and confidence in their abilty to answer their own questions.

Additional references or resources:

LSU Center for Academic Success

How to Study

special connections website (google)