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Curricular Activities that Promote Metacognitive Skills Impact Lower-Performing Students in an Introductory Biology Course

    Authors: Nathan V. Dang1, Jacob C. Chiang1, Heather M. Brown1, Kelly K. McDonald1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Sacramento, CA 95695-6077
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 28 March 2017 Accepted 22 November 2017 Published 16 February 2018
    • ©2018 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: California State University, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819-6077 Phone: 916-278-5836. Fax: 916-278-6993. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. February 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1324
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    Abstract:

    This study explores the impacts of repeated curricular activities designed to promote metacognitive skills development and academic achievement on students in an introductory biology course. Prior to this study, the course curriculum was enhanced with pre-assignments containing comprehension monitoring and self-evaluation questions, exam review assignments with reflective questions related to study habits, and an optional opportunity for students to explore metacognition and deep versus surface learning. We used a mixed-methods study design and collected data over two semesters. Self-evaluation, a component of metacognition, was measured via exam score postdictions, in which students estimated their exam scores after completing their exam. Metacognitive awareness was assessed using the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) and a reflective essay designed to gauge students’ perceptions of their metacognitive skills and study habits. In both semesters, more students over-predicted their Exam 1 scores than under-predicted, and statistical tests revealed significantly lower mean exam scores for the over-predictors. By Exam 3, under-predictors still scored significantly higher on the exam, but they outnumbered the over-predictors. Lower-performing students also displayed a significant increase in exam postdiction accuracy by Exam 3. While there was no significant difference in students’ MAI scores from the beginning to the end of the semester, qualitative analysis of reflective essays indicated that students benefitted from the assignments and could articulate clear action plans to improve their learning and performance. Our findings suggest that assignments designed to promote metacognition can have an impact on students over the course of one semester and may provide the greatest benefits to lower-performing students.

References & Citations

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3. Pintrich PR2010The role of metacognitive knowledge in learning, teaching and assessingTheory Pract4121922510.1207/s15430421tip4104_3 http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip4104_3
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2018-10-19

Abstract:

This study explores the impacts of repeated curricular activities designed to promote metacognitive skills development and academic achievement on students in an introductory biology course. Prior to this study, the course curriculum was enhanced with pre-assignments containing comprehension monitoring and self-evaluation questions, exam review assignments with reflective questions related to study habits, and an optional opportunity for students to explore metacognition and deep versus surface learning. We used a mixed-methods study design and collected data over two semesters. Self-evaluation, a component of metacognition, was measured via exam score postdictions, in which students estimated their exam scores after completing their exam. Metacognitive awareness was assessed using the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) and a reflective essay designed to gauge students’ perceptions of their metacognitive skills and study habits. In both semesters, more students over-predicted their Exam 1 scores than under-predicted, and statistical tests revealed significantly lower mean exam scores for the over-predictors. By Exam 3, under-predictors still scored significantly higher on the exam, but they outnumbered the over-predictors. Lower-performing students also displayed a significant increase in exam postdiction accuracy by Exam 3. While there was no significant difference in students’ MAI scores from the beginning to the end of the semester, qualitative analysis of reflective essays indicated that students benefitted from the assignments and could articulate clear action plans to improve their learning and performance. Our findings suggest that assignments designed to promote metacognition can have an impact on students over the course of one semester and may provide the greatest benefits to lower-performing students.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Metacognitive constructs and sub-categories measured by the Metacognition Awareness Inventory (MAI).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. February 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1324
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FIGURE 2

Timeline of metacognitive activities and assessments embedded in the curriculum over the course of semester.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. February 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1324
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FIGURE 3

Frequency of over- and under-postdiction on Exams 1 and 3 for spring 2015 (SP15) and spring 2016 (SP16) cohorts. Blue bars represent the percentage of students who over-postdicted (estimated exam score was higher than actual exam score). Green bars represent the percentage of students who under-postdicted (estimated exam score was lower than actual exam score). Students who failed to make a prediction or who postdicted correctly (actual score = postdiction score) were excluded from the analysis. HP = high performing; LP = low performing.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. February 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1324
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Image of FIGURE 4

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FIGURE 4

Postdiction accuracy by performance group on Exams 1 and 3 for spring 2015 (SP15) and spring 2016 (SP16) cohorts. Higher calibration score = more accurate. Students were categorized as LP and HP by averaging all foaur exam scores for each student and selecting the median of this distribution as the cut-off point for the two groups. Error bars represent standard deviation of the mean. Comparison bars with values are shown for groups that differ significantly from one another in their calibration scores. LP lower-performing; HP higher-performing.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. February 2018 vol. 19 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1324
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