Embedding metacognitive exercises in the curriculum to boost students' conceptual understanding

Knight, David B., Meyer, Jan H. F., Baldock, Tom E., Callaghan, David P. and McCredden, Julie (2013). Embedding metacognitive exercises in the curriculum to boost students' conceptual understanding. In: Charles Lemckert, Graham Jenkins and Susan Lang-Lemckert, Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education: AAEE2013 Proceedings. AAEE 2013: 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, (1-8). 8-11 December, 2013.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Knight, David B.
Meyer, Jan H. F.
Baldock, Tom E.
Callaghan, David P.
McCredden, Julie
Title of paper Embedding metacognitive exercises in the curriculum to boost students' conceptual understanding
Conference name AAEE 2013: 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education
Conference location Gold Coast, QLD, Australia
Conference dates 8-11 December, 2013
Proceedings title Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education: AAEE2013 Proceedings
Place of Publication Nathan, QLD, Australia
Publisher Griffith School of Engineering, Griffith University
Publication Year 2013
Sub-type Fully published paper
Open Access Status
ISBN 9780992409906
Editor Charles Lemckert
Graham Jenkins
Susan Lang-Lemckert
Start page 1
End page 8
Total pages 8
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
BACKGROUND Engineers Australia asserts that professional engineers must exhibit technical competency, defining advanced engineering knowledge as being able to “comprehend and apply advanced theory-based understanding of engineering fundamentals to predict the effect of engineering activities.” For engineering students in particular, metacognitive activity has been linked to their problem solving skills. Despite this link, operationalizing metacognitive activities in the curriculum to enhance problem solving has been difficult to materialise, and the few successful examples vary in scope and design.

PURPOSE This paper extends prior investigations of a new curricular approach for embedding a metacognitive exercise in the curriculum that leads to students’ greater conceptual understanding and evaluates the approach’s potential to help students develop new capabilities for solving problems.

DESIGN/METHOD The Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy by Biggs and Collis (1982) was reconstituted as an in-class activity so students could recognise variations in structural complexity of various topics. Following the activity, students’ justifications were analysed qualitatively to determine how the activity helped them recognise deficiencies in their own responses. Participating students were quantitatively compared to their non-participating peers on the subsequent summative assessment with respect to their 1) self-reported confidence, 2) performance, and 3) metacognition.

RESULTS Nearly two-thirds of students justified their self-allocated, less-than-perfect mark by indicating their responses lacked depth. The activity showed students how their own answers were not yet fully developed and suggested how they could improve for the future, an essential aspect of formative assessment and feedback. Students also began to recognise that how diagrams are used in responses are more important than whether or not they are included in a response. Quantitative metrics on a subsequent, summative assessment showed significantly higher Cognitive Strategy and confidence measures as well as slightly higher performance for students who participated in the SOLO activity relative to their non-participating peers.

CONCLUSIONS Paying attention to the characteristics of SOLO responses (e.g., using figures in multiple responses) presents an additional opportunity for helping students learn the important distinction between quantity versus structural complexity in their answers. By making such complexity visible to students, they will be more likely to enhance the complexity of their own responses when answering similar problems in the future. Evaluations of the adjusted SOLO activity presented in this paper demonstrate its potential to enhance students’ awareness of their cognitive strategies when solving problems, which may ultimately promote students’ confidence and problem solving abilities.
Keyword Metacognition
Formative assessment
Conceptual understanding
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: School of Civil Engineering Publications
Official 2014 Collection
 
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Created: Tue, 25 Mar 2014, 11:24:21 EST by Julie Hunter on behalf of School of Civil Engineering