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Effective and Adoptable Metacognitive Tools

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Student Success II: Self-Regulatory, Metacognitive, and Professional Skills

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


John Chen California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo

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John Chen is a professor of mechanical engineering. His interests in engineering education include conceptual learning, conceptual change, student autonomy and motivation, and lifelong learning skills and behaviors.

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This paper, an evidence-based practice paper, describes two metacognitive teaching tools that were tested in classroom environments for their efficacy and ease of adoption. Ease of adoption refers to the subjective measures of (a) ease of implementation, (b) minimal displacement of class time, and (c) no requirement for a change in pedagogy. The two tools promote metacognition, which has an extensive evidence base for promoting learning in a wide range of subjects and across grade levels. The first tool tested is the exam wrapper. Examinations or tests provide a measure of student performance and offer feedback to students of their learning and the need to perhaps adjust their learning strategies. Many students, however, focus on the grade rather than the comments or corrections. Even when students make the effort to look at the mistakes, they often miss the opportunity to reflect on the deeper root causes and instead focus on the superficial error. Without deep reflection students may not gain the awareness that they need to confront misconceptions or make strategic changes in their learning. The second tool tested is the assignment correction, a variant of exam wrappers but used for more frequently occurring activities such as homeworks or quizzes. The idea is that, perhaps, improving metacognition requires frequent practice. If the exam wrapper could be adapted for use with graded assignments, it would provide such practice. To remain a tool that is easy to use, however, assignment corrections must be briefer than an exam wrapper, easy to assign, collect and score, and continue to consume little to no class time for completion. The two tools were tested in various engineering courses and mixed results were found: While both tools were adoptable, only the exam wrapper appeared to be efficacious in this study.

Chen, J. (2016, June), Effective and Adoptable Metacognitive Tools Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26901

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