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Board 119: Developing Metacognitive Skills in PBL Undergraduate Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Rose M. Marra University of Missouri

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Rose M. Marra is a Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri. She is PI of the NSF-funded Supporting Collaboration in Engineering Education, and has studied and published on engineering education, women and minorities in STEM, online learning and assessment. Marra holds a PhD. in Educational Leadership and Innovation and worked as a software engineer before entering academe.

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Carolyn Plumb Montana State University

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Carolyn Plumb is the recently retired Director of Educational Innovation and Strategic Projects in the College of Engineering at Montana State University (MSU). Plumb has been involved in engineering education and program evaluation for over 25 years, and she continues to work on externally funded projects relating to engineering education.

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Douglas J. Hacker

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Dr. Hacker is a full professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and participates in both the Learning Sciences Program and the Reading and Literacy Program. Prior to receiving his Ph. D. in educational psychology from the University of Washington in 1994, Dr. Hacker worked as a high school science and math teacher and then as a school counselor. From 1994 to 1999, Dr. Hacker was an assistant/associate professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research at The University of Memphis. During those years, he worked in the areas of reading and writing processes, metacognition, self-regulated learning, teacher education, and school and program evaluation. Dr. Hacker moved to the University of Utah in 1999 and has continued his research in the previous areas and has added to them research in the area of the detection of deception. Also at the University of Utah, he served as chair of the Teaching and Learning Department. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Educational Psychology, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, and Journal of Experimental Education. At both universities, Dr. Hacker has maintained a strong commitment to work in elementary and middle schools, working directly with teachers by providing professional development in reading and writing instruction. He has served as an editorial board member for the Journal of Educational Psychology, Metacognition and Learning, and Frontiers of Educational Psychology. He is a former Associate Editor for the Journal of Educational Psychology.

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Metacognition is “knowledge of one’s knowledge, processes, and cognitive and affective states; and the ability to consciously and deliberately monitor and regulate one’s knowledge, processes, and cognitive and affective states” (Hacker, 1998, p. 3). Metacognition is key to developing life-long learning skills necessary for ABET and for an effective work career, yet it is rarely integrated into engineering education. In our IUSE NSF project, we are studying the development of metacognitive skills of students and graduates of the Iron Range Engineering program (IRE). IRE is an innovative, problem-based-learning (PBL) engineering program in Virginia, Minnesota, where students explicitly engage in activities to become aware of and develop metacognitive skills and apply them in the context of real-world problem solving.

Our project work includes (1) identifying and understanding the metacognitive skills students develop and use during their preparation as engineers in a PBL program and (2) examining whether the preparation of students in the PBL program (particularly in the area of metacognition) gives them a “leg up” in their transition to the engineering workforce. Data sources for this project include student interview data supplemented with interviews of recent IRE graduates employed as engineers and of employers of the IRE graduates to better understand the effect of this unique undergraduate program on student preparedness for the engineering workforce. We are also collecting data from think-aloud protocols during student solving of an open-ended design problem.

We are currently in our last year of data collection. Our poster will share more details on our methodology and results. Specifically, we anticipate including the following:

• Aggregate data analysis of first year IRE students’ metacognitive indicators from interviews and think-aloud data. • Aggregate data analysis of IRE alumni (who have been working as engineers five years or less) on their use of metacognition and metacognitive strategies in the workplace • Preliminary results of first and second data collections of entering and graduating students with comparative data analysis from interviews and think alouds.

Our intention in this project is to demonstrate how explicit instruction and practice applying metacognitive skills may positively impact the transition of graduating engineers to the workplace.

Marra, R. M., & Plumb, C., & Hacker, D. J. (2018, June), Board 119: Developing Metacognitive Skills in PBL Undergraduate Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29893

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