The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…

Facilitating Metacognitive Awareness Via Perspective Taking

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Written by Lisa Vinney, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Illinois State University

It’s no secret that metacognition, or thinking about thinking to critically evaluate and shape one’s future learning and behavior, is tied to strong learning gains and greater success on a range of cognitive tasks (Dunlosky & Metcalfe, 2009; Koriat, Ackerman, Locke, & Schneider, 2009; Prins, Veenman, & Elshout, 2006; Nelson & Dunlosky, 1991; Koriat & Bjork, 2006; Koriat, 2008). Thus, developing and implementing innovative pedagogies to support students’ metacognitive awareness is a worthwhile endeavor. Borne out of this idea, Jennifer Friberg, current Cross Endowed Chair for SoTL at Illinois State University, and I designed and implemented an independent study for undergraduate Communication Sciences and Disorders students during Spring 2016. This experience was meant to promote deep reflection and metacognitive awareness in relationship to the devastating effects of laryngeal cancer and the complexities of its interprofessional management. Support for studying the results of the pedagogical methods included in this independent study (i.e. quantitative analysis of our results, qualitative coding, and preparation of a presentation for ISSoTL) was provided by a SoTL Research Mini-Award by the immediate past Cross Endowed Chair, Kathleen McKinney.

Accordingly, our work involved offering a semester-long experience to seven undergraduate students who engaged in weekly discussions related to topical, assigned readings on various aspects of laryngeal cancer. During discussions, students engaged with case scenarios and then were assigned the role of one or more individuals from the case (e.g., patient, family, and other professionals). perspectiveThey then answered questions and engaged in discussion about aspects of each case from the perspective of their assigned role. Following each weekly reading and discussion, students answered five standard reflection questions. These reflections were used as a vehicle to determine the efficacy of our pedagogical methods along with a questionnaire administered as a pre- and post- measure called the Metacognition Awareness Inventory (MAI; Schraw and Dennison, 1994). Specifically, we qualitatively analyzed changes in weekly student reflections across the independent study and quantitatively analyzed changes in MAI scores pre and post independent study.

Our pilot data, recently presented at ISSoTL in Los Angeles, indicated that the content of student reflections evolved from a focus on foundational metacognitive knowledge (i.e. student’s knowledge about useful learning strategies and their own personal learning style) to self-regulatory components of metacognitive awareness (i.e. knowledge about planning, monitoring, evaluating, and engaging in specific strategies to facilitate and manage learning and cognition). Currently, we are implementing the same independent study experience with a new group of 10 students. After the completion of the semester, we will again analyze students’ pre- and post-MAIs and weekly written reflections to add to our pilot data. That said, our preliminary results alone indicate that opportunities for discussion-based perspective taking followed by independent written reflections may promote discipline-specific content knowledge as well as higher-level metacognitive processes.

Blog References

Dunlosky, J. & Metcalfe, J (2009). Metacognition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publishing.

Koriat, A. (2008). Easy comes, easy goes? the link between learning and remembering and its exploitation in metacognition. Memory & Cognition, 36(2), 416-428.

Koriat, A., & Bjork, R. A. (2006). Mending metacognitive illusions: A comparison of mnemonic-based and theory-based procedures. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32(5), 1133-1145.

Koriat, A., Ackerman, R., Lockl, K., & Schneider, W. (2009). The memorizing effort heuristic in judgments of learning: A developmental perspective. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102(3), 265-279.

Nelson, T. O., & Dunlosky, J. (1991). When people’s judgments of learning (JOLs) are extremely accurate at predicting subsequent recall: The ‘delayed-JOL effect.’ Psychological Science, 2(4), 267-270.

Prins, F. J., Veenman, M. V. J., & Elshout, J. J. (2006). The impact of intellectual ability and metacognition on learning: New support for the threshold of problematicity theory. Learning and Instruction, 16(4), 374-387.

Schraw, G. & Dennison, R.S. (1994). Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19, 460-475.



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