Using Metacognitive exercises with EvaluateUR

The EvaluateUR process encourages students to practice self-assessment across a list of competencies and skills. It builds student 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 EvaluateUR timeline, and metacognitive exercises can also be added to enhance learning along the way.

Metacognitive Practice within the EvaluateUR timeline

Below are some suggestions that can reinforce metacognitive practice within the EvaluateUR timeline. Mentors should feel free to adapt these activities to the needs of their particular setting. These suggestions can be mixed and matched with each other. They can take as much or as little time as the mentor deems appropriate. The goal is to regularly reinforce the importance of metacognitive practice.

Pre-research self-reflection

As part of the pre-research process, students are asked to complete a self-assessment of their goals, interests, expectations, knowledge, and skills to establish a common starting point for both students and their mentors. The student reflection exercise gives students an opportunity to practice self-assessment and begin thinking about their learning process (metacognition). Students could choose to complete any of the metacognitive exercises as a way to further explore items uncovered in their pre-research self-reflection.

Pre-research mentor feedback suggestion

Once students have submitted their self-reflection, mentors have the ability to edit the automated email template response. This could include the suggestion that students complete one (or more) of the metacognitive exercises. For example, if students express concerns about their ability to ask meaningful questions that add to existing knowledge in the field, then students could be directed to an exercise on asking meaningful research questions. If students express anxiety about their ability to sound smart enough to talk about their work, students could be directed to an exercise related to building effective communication.

Assessment discussions: Pre-research, mid-research, end of research

At three separate points during the research process, student/mentor pairs meet to discuss the score reports based on their independent assessment of the outcome categories. The metacognitive exercises can extend those mentoring efforts and provide additional opportunities to practice self-assessment. For example, if the student/mentor pair find themselves a discussing a student's difficulty dealing with obstacles, then the mentor could suggest the metacognitive exercises related to building research resilience. The exercise encourages students to take stock in their difficulties and strategies for managing them.

Students could be encouraged to complete metacognitive exercises as part of their own self-exploration or the student/mentor pair could choose to have an additional conversation to discuss the student response. In either case, the metacognitive exercises provide students with opportunities to deepen their understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses related to outcome categories.

Keeping a journal with metacognition

As part of an ongoing effort to promote student self-reflection, students are encouraged to keep a journal where they record their thoughts and experiences. The metacognitive exercises can be used in conjunction with these efforts. For example, students might find themselves journaling about how to ask for help, how to work with others, or improve time-management. The metacognitive exercises can provide students with structured opportunities to explore the issues captured in the journal.

Students journals can also be used to collect topics to be discussed mentors. The metacognitive exercises could be used after those student/mentor conversations and deepen student understanding. The exercises could also help students uncover evidence for their views. If they believe that they are struggling in particular ways and their mentor disagrees, then the exercises can prompt students to explore why they hold that belief and whether the evidence actually supports it.