The SoTL Advocate

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

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Application of SoTL: Sharing Results with Students

Written by Susan Hildebrandt, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics/Spanish, Department of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures at Illinois State University 

“Understanding World Language edTPA,” a two-hour workshop I presented at the annual meeting of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL) in Tinley Park, focused on the content-specific student teacher performance assessment purported to measure beginning teacher readiness. edTPA became consequential for every individual seeking teacher licensure in the state of Illinois in September 2015. Student learning was central to this workshop as it explored how ISU world language teacher candidates performed on edTPA. This systematic study of ISU student learning is timely for world language teacher education programs throughout the state. By examining and sharing my students’ performance on the standardized edTPA, a state-wide audience learned from their triumphs and challenges. The workshop also served as an opportunity for a variety of audiences to get a wider view of edTPA, its origin, and its use.

The intended audience for this presentation was world language teacher education coordinators or world language pedagogy instructors and faculty, but a much more diverse audience attended the session. Five of the nine attendees were world language teacher candidates from across the state, who were taking pedagogy classes this semester and intended to student teach during the spring of 2107. The purpose of this workshop was originally to help world language teacher education programs get their students ready for edTPA. Instead, I got to go straight to the intended audience. The edTPA outcomes of my students were able to communicated to teacher candidates directly and I was able offer practical suggestions about how be more successful at demonstrating effective K-12 teaching practices. I was able to point out the areas in which my candidates were successful and those in which they struggled. I was able to share resources that were of particular value to my teacher candidates here at ISU.

The workshop deconstructed edTPA with an exploratory quantitative study, in which I examined edTPA scores of world language teacher candidates (N = 34) and compared their scores to the known cut scores for states in which edTPA is a requirement for licensure. Results indicated that participants performed best in the planning section of the assessment and were most challenged by the assessment section. All participants earned scores above the current minimal cut score for Washington state, and all but two would pass in New York state. The workshop also highlighted ways of encountering the three required tasks, along with logistical guidance for videotaping and writing the extensive commentaries for each task.

The teacher candidate attendees expressed great interest in these results, as more than one intended on teaching in another state. As a result of their interest, I decided to bring my findings back to my own class. I had intended to talk with them about edTPA that day, but I hadn’t intended to give them a research presentation. And yet, I did. And I think they enjoyed it. It’s not often they get to peak behind the curtain of a teacher education program and see how we use data to improve practice. I hope, too, that my teacher candidates can use this experience to learn to analyze their own classroom-based data, one of the skills assessed in edTPA.


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Making Global Learning Connections: Sydney, Australia and Illinois State University

Written by Judith Briggs, Associate Professor in the School of Art at Illinois State University

briggs blogI received SoTL travel funds from the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL to present a best practice lecture at the National Art Education Association Convention that was held in Chicago, Illinois in March 2016 in conjunction Karen Profilio, Head Visual Arts Teacher, North Sydney Girls High School (NSGHS), Sydney, Australia, and Sarah Schmidt an Illinois State University (ISU) art teacher alumnus who participated in in the 2015 ISU Art Education in Australia summer course that I taught. This presentation is summarized below.

Students’ Out-of-Class Learning Opportunities

Within this course ISU art teacher candidates (TCs) visited the visual arts departments of nine New South Wales (NSW) secondary schools, attended a Visual Arts and Design Educators Association workshop that focused on educating students about Aboriginal art, attended a graduate visual arts education class at the University of NSW, visited galleries and places of interest, and reflected on the effective manner in which NSW visual arts educators incorporated art historical and critical study and contemporary artists’ practice into their art classrooms. NSW visual arts educators demonstrated techniques for analyzing and asking in-depth questions about artwork, writing informed reflections, and developing guided student inquiry within art production. They shared curriculum and teaching practices. Profilio tutored the ISU TCs in recognizing big ideas within contemporary artwork and in seeing art as a transformative medium that can address social issues. ISU TCs watched North Sydney girls in action within lectures, digital media performances, and artwork critiques. TCs viewed student work and student visual arts process diaries. Profilio suggested ways that U.S. art educators could work collaboratively to explore new art forms, such as installation and relational aesthetics.

Within the conference lecture Profilio detailed a Year 7 unit “The Artic Pops!” that asked the overarching question, “Is art transformative?” to highlight the qualities of resilience, connection, and innovation, which shape aware, effective global citizens. The ISU TCs saw all elements of this unit in progress when they visited North Sydney Girls School in 2015, and came to understand that a unit of lesson plans should have depth, discuss the meaning behind artists’ work, connect this meaning to the world, include writing and reflection, and enable a class to work collaboratively to develop ideas. Profilio shared unit materials with the ISU TCs, and TCs recorded their observations in visual process diaries and through photographs.

Students’ Reflections

When TCS returned to ISU, they reflected on their experiences and collaboratively developed the following observations concerning the NSGHS approach to visual arts education:

  • The NSGHS visual arts teachers collaborate to create rich, multi-layered units, especially for older students.
  • At NSGHS there is an emphasis on the transformative nature of art and on its ability to speak to wider social and cultural concerns outside of the art classroom.
  • At NSGHS there is an emphasis on student research and on an understanding of the concerns that drive the artists whom the students are studying.
  • At NSGHS there is a push to move outside of the classroom and into the wider world through the study of diverse artistic practices, such as installation art and relational aesthetics.
  • At NSGHS there is a focus on student empowerment, especially concerning girls.
  • The NSGHS visual arts educators use innovative artistic practices, such as time-based work, that are inspired by contemporary artists’ practices.

My students and I concluded that the NSGHS visual arts educators and students practiced arts-based research (Marshall & D’Adamo, 2011; Rolling, 2011) that stressed the creative process, rigor, concept, research, and technical skills. This research has student autonomy as its goal and encourages interdisciplinary thinking and making connections across disciplines. Arts-based research encourages critical thinking while engendering a range of experiences, and it depends upon visual arts teachers, who act as guides, to channel students’ interests.

Operationalizing Students’ Reflections

I incorporated the following ideas from student reflections of their NSGHS experience into the curriculum of the ISU art education methods courses that I taught the subsequent semester:

  • I changed the curriculum from being theme-based to one that stressed the big idea.
  • I stressed that TCs could convey the message that art can be empowering and transformative.
  • My curriculum stressed that investigating artists and artwork was a way to interpret and to understand contemporary society.
  • I emphasized that artistic practice was an intellectual practice that taught students to think.
  • The curriculum drew attention to the fact that TCs and their students could be both artists and researchers, and emphasized researching artists and their practice to ask critical questions for higher-level understanding.

These changes to my approach to this class led to a curriculum development project for students emphasizing research-based approaches to pedagogy. ISU TCs, consequently, created art education curriculum units that:

  • encouraged transformative thought by questioning racial stereotypes, using the artwork of Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley as examples
  • used a NSGHS unit of study to explore the painting of artist Marlene Dumas, who questioned societal notions of race and appearance
  • engaged students with the community via message boards, post-it notes, sidewalk chalking, and house painting and led her students out of the art classroom in the process, following the work of Candy Chang
  • focused on girls’ and women’s empowerment and taught a unit based on the work of artist Verimus who altered public magazine advertisements of models to question the media ideal of perfection
  • featured the work of artist Nina Katchadourian and helped students decode artifacts for their cultural resonance.

All ISU TCs created curriculum, using constructs from the NSW Visual Arts Syllabi, the Frames and the Conceptual Framework, along with the U.S. National Visual Arts Standards that promote creating, presenting, responding and connecting, to guide question creation and investigation of artists’ practice.

Overall, the conference lecture emphasized that global teaching and learning connections could be forged over continents to broaden teaching and learning possibilities. NSW visual arts educators’ practices informed those of ISU and helped to broaden teaching practices through reflection, integration of in- and out-of-classroom learning, and collaboration.

Blog References:

Board of Studies NSW. (2013). Visual arts stage 6 syllabus. Retrieved from   

Marshall, J., & D’Adamo. (2011). Art practice as research in the classroom: A new paradigm in art education. Art Education, 64(5), 12-18.

National Art Education Association. 2016. Convention resources. Retrieved from

North Sydney Girls High School. (2015). Year 7: The artic pops!

Rolling, J. (2011). Art education as a network for curriculum innovation and adaptable          learning. (National Art Education Association Advocacy White Paper for Art Eduation). Retrieved from National Art Education Association website:


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Reflecting on Learning at the SoTL Commons Conference

Written by: Jen Friberg, SoTL Scholar-Mentor at Illinois State University

At the end of March, I had the good fortune to attend the SoTL Commons conference in Savannah, Georgia. The conference was full of all the things you hope to find at a SoTL gathering: good ideas, a sense of community, and an opportunity to reflect and learn. Kudos to Diana Sturgis and her team from Georgia Southern University for a wonderful experience. I look forward to going back in the future.

SoTL COmmons

One of my favorite presentations at the conference was delivered by keynote speaker Dr. Sarah Leupen from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her address (Beyond Navel Gazing: The Evidence Base for Employing Reflective and Metacognitive Practices in our Teaching) offered timely and useful advice for those wishing to engage their students as reflective learners. Specifically, Dr. Leupen suggested five strategies – supported by ample evidence — that we, as course instructors, could use in order to accomplish this task in a scholarly manner:

  1. Teach students what we actually know about learning. Leupen cited a host of evidence related to how people learn and strongly advocated for instructors to share this knowledge with their students so they might better understand their own learning processes – what works, what doesn’t, and what changes in practice could be effective to improve learning.
  2. Use learning wrappers to have students reflect on (and learn from) their past performance on various types of learning assessments. Having students identify what they did (process of studying and preparation) and if it worked (satisfaction with their learning/performance outcomes) can help students identify effective practices in preparing for assessments.
  3. Have students teach content to each other. Leupen cited research that suggests peer teaching/discussion is most effective in helping students engage in high-level activities (e.g., analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), as when students have to reason, reflect, and explain, they have better learning outcomes.
  4. Use team-based learning. Implementing the trifecta of individual thought, peer-to-peer communication/discussion, and instructor facilitation has been found to be impactful in the learning process for students, for much as students can teach each other (see #3 above), they can also be very effective teammates, solving problems and simultaneously reporting on what they have learned.
  5. Train students’ attention to task. Stating that “natural times for reflection are disappearing,” Leupen advocated for the need to teach targeted “meta-attention” strategies to students via contemplative reading and reflective journaling in an effort to create a purposeful and regular outlet for non-interrupted reflection.

Dr. Leupen’s excellent presentation can be downloaded in its entirety at the SoTL Commons proceedings site. Other presentations from the conference can be downloaded here. For a list of other, upcoming SoTL conferences, check the Cross Chair website.


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SoTL Think Tank: Fostering Cross-Program Collaboration Within a Discipline

Written by Jerry K. Hoepner, Associate Professor ( and Abby Hemmerich, Assistant Professor ( at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

The American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) Academic Affairs Board (AAB) released a report on the role of undergraduate education in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) in June of 2015. Among the concerns addressed by this report is the need to align curriculum and pedagogy across programs. A lack of consistency across programs constrains the portability of a CSD degree to other undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as the generalizability to related educational and healthcare professions.

While this is a discipline-specific example, it is a challenge which faces many disciplines. The reality of today’s educational context affirms that students increasingly seek flexibility in how they assemble their education and the programs that deliver it. This blog addresses one program’s attempt to foster collaboration across institutions operating in the same state university system.

The University of Wisconsin Systems SoTL Think Tank sought to initiate a consortium of faculty from six state programs in CSD. The program was initiated in the spring of 2015 through a UW Systems conference development grant by the Office of Professional Instruction and Development (OPID). The initial intent of the consortium was to share information about current teaching strategies, develop a network of faculty interested in incorporating SoTL research in their programs, encourage sharing of resources and content expertise, foster research and teaching collaboration between programs, increase SoTL and pedagogical knowledge across system programs, and conjointly develop plans for future collaboration (see figure 1).

Figure 1. Purpose and goals of the UW Systems SoTL Think Tank.

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Prior to the one-day seminar, attendees responded to a Qualtrics survey about their previous and current perspectives and experiences with SoTL and pedagogy. Most respondents indicated that collaboration happened within their own departments on their own campuses but less across the campus or with similar programs on other campuses (see figure 2). Most attendees felt their home departments valued discussions of SoTL and encouraged research in this area, but implementation of teaching observations was less common (see figure 3).

Figure 2. Pre-conference collaboration data.

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Figure 3. Perceived value of SoTL at home institution.

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A moderator from the host university’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning guided discussions following the framework below:

  • Meet and greet. An informal discussion paired with refreshments allowed the attendees to get to know one another prior to deeper discussions of pedagogy.
  • Discussion of selected readings from disciplinary SoTL text (Ginsberg, Friberg, & Visconti, 2012). Initial discussions of the text allowed attendees to share pedagogical philosophies and connect academic and clinical teaching. Attendees worked within small groups to share experiences and insights related to instruction.
  • What is SoTL and where are people at the outset? Reflecting upon previous experiences with teaching and learning, under the lens of readings within the Ginsberg et al. text, attendees identified the aspects of SoTL that matched their current understanding and where they hoped to be. As you see in the images below (see figure 4), attendees’ conceptualization of the intersection between teaching and SoTL migrated throughout the day from a focus on teacher-learner interactions and pedagogical content knowledge towards evidence-based education and SoTL.

Figure 4. Attendee conceptualizations of the teaching, pedagogy, and SoTL continuum.

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  • SoTL and pedagogy in the discipline. Discussions of the role of SoTL in the discipline, implementation of evidence-based pedagogies, and signature pedagogies within the discipline took place as attendee conceptualization evolved.
  • Action Plans. Following a framework designed by the hosts of the think tank, we worked to assemble dreams (i.e., what would you do if time, money, and other resources were not a limiting factor), goals (e.g., what specific steps will you take next), and potential collaboration surrounding research and teaching interests and needs (see figure 5). Each attendee defined a plan for implementing SoTL at some level into his/her teaching or research for the following academic year.

Figure 5. Action plan (left) and examples of lessons to share (right).

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  • Brag N’ Steal. Attendees brought an innovative lesson to share and discuss. As they presented their lesson plans, it fostered a discussion of how others may draw upon those principles for lessons in their content areas (e.g., a lesson for an adult neurogenic disorders class and how that could be modified for a child language development course). Examples are shown in figure 5 above.

Several projects and plans for follow-up were initiated. This included:

  1. A survivor speaker series exchange which has already hosted its first speaker
  2. A faculty speaker-exchange
  3. A presentation at our disciplinary annual conference in November 2015
  4. A presentation at the UW Systems conference in April 2016
  5. A plan to meet again the following spring, hosted by another program within the system

The program was intended to foster inter-program pedagogical and research collaborations. The conference included one, full-day interaction, intended to foster review of a framework for SoTL research and pedagogical enhancement in CSD. Faculty with expertise in similar content areas were able to connect for future collaboration in teaching resources, as well as research. Further, commonalities across program curriculums provided a basis for initiating discussions of inter-program curricular consistency and compatibility. This could enable students to move seamlessly between system programs (i.e., undergraduate to undergraduate program, undergraduate to graduate school).

Implications & Potential Extensions

This program attempted to initiate a collaboration of disciplinary programs across a system. While not all universities are a part of a state system, as the programs we have described, most programs will have state and regional affiliates in their discipline with whom they may wish to collaborate. As you can see, this is not a process that is quick to implement. Our work thus far is merely a few steps towards our ultimate goals of producing portable curricula, shared standards, cross-program collaboration, and shared expertise. Achieving those lofty goals begins with those initial connections and conversations.

Blog References:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2015). Academic Affairs Board, “The Role of Undergraduate Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders”, Final Report. Retrieved from

Ginsberg, S., Friberg, J., & Visconti, C. (2012). Scholarship of teaching and learning in speech-language pathology and audiology: Evidence-based education. San Diego: Plural Publishing.



Application of SoTL: Strategies to Encourage Metacognition in the Classroom

Written by Jen Friberg, SoTL Scholar-Mentor, Illinois State University

Metacog pic

Recently, I have been doing a good deal of reading about various evidence-based strategies to teach for metacognitive understanding in my graduate and undergraduate courses, knowing that when students are explicitly “thinking about their thinking,” they have the capacity to learn more, extend learning beyond the classroom, and integrate information across contexts more easily.

In 2012, Kimberly Tanner published a paper titled: Promoting Student Metacognition. Within this paper, Tanner reviews strategies for explicit teaching of metacognitive strategies to build a culture of “thinking about thinking” within her biology classes. She posits that thinking like a professional requires students to be metacognitive, making teaching about thinking arguably as important as teaching specific course content.

In terms of specific strategies, Tanner provides “sample self-questions to promote student metacognition about learning” (p. 115). She categorizes these into three categories (planning, monitoring, and evaluation) across four specific contexts (class session, active learning task/homework assignment, quiz/exam, and overall course) for a total of 51 specific questions that students can ask themselves to evaluate their learning processes. These include:

  • What resources do I need to complete the task at hand? How will I make sure I have them?
  • What do I most want to learn in this course?
  • Can I distinguish important information from details? If not, how will I figure this out?
  • To what extent am I taking advantage of all the learning supports available to me?
  • Which of my confusions have I clarified? How was I able to get them clarified?
  • How did the ideas of today’s class session relate to previous class sessions?
  • What have I learned about how I learn in this course that I could use in my future courses? In my career?

The utility of providing these questions to students for their use is undeniable, but we cannot be certain that students will take the opportunity to become more metacognitive on their own. Tanner advocates for sharing these questions with students AND embedding them into existing assignments and learning opportunities to build a habit of reflection, which can lead to more routine thinking about learning.

It is with a more explicit intention to directly encourage metacognitive thought that Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison wrote the text Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding and Independence for All Learners in 2011. Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison advocate for having students think about their own thinking through the implementation of thinking routines to make thinking more “visible” as part of the learning process. The suggest different levels of routines to drive different sorts of thinking: introducing/exploring ideas, synthesizing/organizing ideas, and digging deeper into ideas. All in all, 21 different strategies for classroom use are described, including:

  • See-Think-Wonder (p. 55): A strategy for introducing and exploring information that has students asking themselves three questions when observing a new object/artifact — What do you see? What do you think is going on? What does it make you wonder?
  • Connect-Extend-Challenge (p. 132): A strategy for encouraging synthesis and organization of ideas that asks student to consider what they have just read/seen/heard, then ask themselves: how are the ideas and information presented connected to what you already knew? what new ideas did you get that extended or broadened your thinking in new directions? What challenges or puzzles have come up in your mind from the ideas and information presented?
  • Circle of Viewpoints (p. 171): A strategy to digger deeper into ideas that requires students to consider different perspectives that could be present of affected by a given topic by considering the following: 1) I am thinking of [name of the event/issue] from ______ point of view, 2) I think [describe topic form your viewpoint] because _______, and 3) A question/concern I have from this viewpoint is ________ .

Do you think these strategies could be useful in your teaching context? When working with your students in academic, clinical, or outside the classroom/clinic situations, what strategies are you using to encourage metacognition? Have you studied these strategies in any way? We’d love to hear more in the comments below!

Blog References:

Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

Tanner, K. D. (2012). Promoting student metacognition. CBE – Life Sciences Education, 11, 113-120.

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Examples of Discipline Specific SoTL that is Relevant to Other Fields: Accounting for Class Absences, Private Journals vs. Public Blogs, and Peer Review in Research Methods

By Kathleen McKinney, Cross Chair in SoTL, Illinois State University

Much SoTL research is published in discipline-specific pedagogical journals such as my own field’s Teaching Sociology. Though some teaching-learning issues and questions are discipline-specific (e.g., related to a unique skill, a threshold concept or a signature pedagogy), many others have relevance to multiple disciplines. In this blog post, I briefly summarize three recent articles from Teaching Sociology that have SoTL questions, study methodologies, results, and implications of interest to instructors and SoTL researchers in other fields.

First, O’Sullivan et al. (2015) used focus groups, an open-ended questionnaire, and an on-line survey to examine how undergraduate students understand and explain their absences from sociology classes at University College Dublin. Based on this multi-method approach, the authors concluded that students often understand attendance as an “optional feature of student life” and that individual-level frameworks to explain attendance were of limited use as individual student’s attendance behavior varied across classes. Rather, attendance was reportedly influenced by situational factors such as the pedagogical strategies used in the class, students’ and peers’ beliefs about the usefulness of the class, course content, students’ ability to use legitimate accounts to excuse or justify their absences, and perceived consequences of missing class. Thus, as the authors noted, faculty/staff as well as departments and institutions have some control over improving student attendance.

The quality of reflective writing when assigning private journals or public blogs is the topic of study in Foster’s research (2015). He conducted a comparative content analysis of over 2000 journal entries and blogs from Introduction to Sociology classes at the University of Michigan. From this wealth of data, Foster concluded that the two types of writing assignments do not result in different levels of quality of reflection but, rather, in distinct forms of reflection. These distinctions appear to be, at least in part, due to the risks taken in the two forms of writing. The blogs involve peer readership and, thus, “enable students to take more intellectual risks and engage in logical mental endeavors” whereas the journal entries are not read by peers and allow students to “take more personal risks and engage in emotional labor” when understanding material. An implication of this research is that teachers should think about their learning and developmental objectives for asking students to do reflective writing and assign specific writing formats best suited to those objectives.

Finally, Crowe, Silva, and Ceresola (2015) focused on the use of peer review in multiple sections of a quantitative research methods class at “a small, urban university in Texas.” The authors used a quasi-experiment to assess the effects of having four in-class sessions of peer review/feedback on a variety of dependent variables including final course grade and the quality of several draft portions of the proposal. In addition, to peer review, several student variables (e.g, age, sex, race, year in school) were included as independent variables. The results of the study are complex but, generally, the authors found a positive impact of peer review on only one of six dependent measures. Senior-level students, however, performed significantly better on all the dependent measures than did junior-level students. The authors concluded that peer review may not be worth in-class time and must be thoughtfully structured. They also noted, however, that there may be benefits of peer review not measured in this study that faculty should consider. These benefits could include the opportunity to interact intellectually with other students, strengthening of confidence and social skills, and contributing to a culture of shared expertise in the classroom.

Blog References:

Crowe, J. A., Silva, T., and Ceresola, R. 2015. “The Effect of Peer Review on Student Learning Outcomes in a Research Methods Course.” Teaching Sociology 43(3):201-213.

Foster, D. 2015. “Private Journals versus Public Blogs: The Impact of Peer Readership on Low-stakes Reflective Writing.” Teaching Sociology 43(2):104-114.

O’Sullivan, S., McMahon, L., Moore, G., Nititham, D. S., Slevin, A., Kelly, C., and Wixted, L. 2015. “’I Did Not Miss Any, Only When I had a Valid Reason’: Accounting for Absences from Sociology Classes.” Teaching Sociology 43(1):15-26.

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SoTL Applied: Taking a Metacognitive Approach to Teaching and Learning

Written by Jen Friberg, SoTL Scholar-Mentor at Illinois State University

Recently, I came across a blog written by Ed Nuhfer titled Developing Metacogntive Literacy though Role Play: Edward DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats. I will admit to being intrigued, having not heard of this approach before. Nuhfer’s blog focused on DeBono’s “Six Thinking Hats” as a foundation for training students to learn via perspective taking. He suggests and describes six “hats” that students can wear, and suggests ways course instructors can implement the use of these “hats” to:

  • urge students to present factual evidence about a given course topic
  • advocate for the use/implementation/acceptance of the topic being discussed
  • challenge the use/implementation/acceptance of the topic being discussed
  • express emotion to share positive, negative and/or neutral feelings about a specific course topic
  • question assumptions and/or challenge peers to think differently about a given course topic
  • reflect and increase awareness on a given course topic

Each of these approaches asks students to demonstrate their understanding of course content in a different manner, channeling their metacognitive (aka: “thinking about thinking”) learning processes. Nuhfer argues that by engaging in this form of perspective taking, students become more self-aware as learners and can increase deep learning for specific course content. SoTL researchers have advocated for such metacognitive approaches to learning for decades, indicating that:

Integration of metacognitive instruction with discipline-based learning can enhance student achievement and develop in student the ability to learn independently (Donovan, Bransford, & Pelligrino, 1999, p. 17).

While the Six Hats method for teaching via metacognition is one approach course instructors can adopt for their use, many sources (e.g., Ambrose et al, 2010; Lovett, 2008) agree that when students engage in the following activities, metacognitive learning can be achieved in many different learning contexts:

  1. demonstrate the ability to assess the demands of a learning task
  2. evaluate their knowledge and skills for the task at hand
  3. plan an appropriate approach to undertake the learning task
  4. self-monitor their learning progress throughout the task
  5. make adjustments to their approach to learning as they work towards task completion

How are you emphasizing metacognitive learning in your classrooms? What processes are you using? How are you mediating these processes to allow students to understand your expectations and practice with the above mentioned metacognitive skills? We’d love to hear about your experiences — so please comment below!

Blog Resources:

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., Lovett, M. C., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Donovan, M. S., Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, J. W. (Eds). (1999). How people learn: Bridging research and practice. Washington DC: National Academy Press.

Lovett, M. C. (2008, January). Teaching metacogntion [featured presentation at Educause conference]. Retrieved from:

Nufer, E. (2015). Developing Metacogntive Literacy though Role Play: Edward DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats [blog]. Retrieved from: