Using confidence judgements to identify characteristics of students' metacognitive awareness and achievement in introductory geoscience courses

Wednesday 1:45pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Oral Presentation


Jason Jones, North Carolina State University
David McConnell, North Carolina State University
Metacognition is one's ability to recognize the workings and characteristics of their own knowledge and thought processes. In conjunction with the sensory, short-term, and long-term memories, a student's metacognitive awareness will dictate how they will interact with and internalize the course content they are being taught. It provides students with the ability to isolate important information, identify gaps in their knowledge, and can inform their decisions on what to study, when to study, and how to study in order to fill identified deficiencies.

Educational psychology research on metacognition identifies monitoring - the ability to accurately monitor the level of one's own knowledge and to accurately compare this approximation to how they will perform during an assessment of that knowledge - as an important and predictive metacognitive skill. This monitoring activity is usually reported by the learner in the form of their confidence in knowing a particular item of course information. The calculated value that represents the gap between a student's confidence and their measured performance on an assessment is referred to as a student's calibration.

Research shows that high-performing students generally exhibit high confidence and low calibration values (e.g. they are accurate in predicting their knowledge), while low-performing students are generally less accurate in their monitoring abilities. Research suggests that metacognition can be improved via sustained and explicit intervention, and that improvements in metacognitive skills such as calibration can compensate for low ability and insufficient knowledge in a discipline.

For the earth educator, the systematic monitoring of students' metacognitive awareness via calibration values can provide an opportunity to discover areas of content knowledge that require more instructional attention, isolate students who are potentially harboring misconceptions regarding course materials, or identify the state of a number of other potential variables that affect the process of learning in the geosciences.