Using Metacognitive Exercises in E-CURE

The EvaluateUR-CURE process encourages students to reflect and self-assess throughout their CURE, building metacognitive skills, confidence, and self-awareness. It also facilitates a consistent assessment of student strengths and weaknesses that enhances the mentoring process by focusing efforts on specific areas. The metacognitive process can be reinforced within the steps of the E-CURE timeline, and metacognitive exercises can also be added to enhance learning along the way.

Dashboard Documentation on Adding Metacognitive Exercises to your automated E-CURE program

Suggested Metacognitive Practices in the E-CURE Classroom


In course-based settings, instructors may choose to set aside some class time to discuss the exercises. The discussion could be the subject of an entire class session or just a few minutes. But it is important to take at least some class time to the discuss the exercises because it signals to students that exercises are integral to their learning in the course and the successful completion of their research projects. Below are some suggested in-class activities that can reinforce metacognitive practice.

Instructors should feel free to adapt these activities to the needs of their particular setting. They can be mixed and matched with each other. They can take as much or as little class time as the instructor deems appropriate. The goal is to regularly reinforce the importance of metacognitive practice. These exercises would typically be completed by students outside of class. Student answers need not be overly long. Consistent practice asking metacognitive questions is as (or more) important than in-depth engagement on a particular occasion. To reduce mentor workload, it is recommended that the activities be graded as "complete/incomplete."

Batch instructor feedback -  After students complete a metacognitive exercise, the instructor might read through the student responses looking for common themes. Are students finding success in similar places? Are they struggling in similar ways? Are there large differences among clusters of students? While not offering individual feedback to student responses, the instructor can use the identified themes as discussion points to celebrate success or offer possible strategies for overcoming the challenges identified by the student.

Think-pair-share - Each of the metacognitive exercises contains several question prompts. Instructors might choose one of those prompts and ask students to turn to their neighbor to discuss their answer. The instructor could extend the activity by asking students to summarize their partner's insight.

Group-activity – Instructors might break students into small groups where the goal of the group discussion is to generate a list of "take away tips" to be shared with the class based on that group's interaction with the metacognitive exercise. This could be recorded on a shared electronic document, a piece of paper, or reported out the class verbally.

Metacognitive "time-outs" – Instructors might take a moment to "pause" in class to explicitly make a connection to metacognition. For example, if the topic is problem-solving, the instructor could remind students about the importance of being aware of how to identify the root cause of a problem and how to generate potential solutions. Or the instructor might point out how to recognize potential flaws or mistaken assumptions.  The purpose of the time-out is to remind students that metacognitive practice can improve their ability to problem-solve by increasing their awareness of problem-solving elements and the importance of making meaningful adjustments.

Ticket out – Some instructors use a "ticket out the door" as a way to take attendance and gauge student  understanding. This could be as simple as "what's one thing you learned today?" Or "are there parts of today's class that you're shaky on?" Instructors using a ticket out could work in a question connecting a metacognitive exercise with the day's session. For example, "where might you find answers to leftover questions from today's class?"  Or "given what you learned in class today, how might you have prepared for class differently?" Tickets out typically take less than five minutes.


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