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Promoting Metacognitive Awareness in a First-Year Learning Strategies Course for Cohorted General Engineering Students

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Focusing on Student Success

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Laurel Whisler Clemson University

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Laurel Whisler is Assistant Director and Coordinator of Course Support Programs in Clemson University’s Westmoreland Academic Success Program. In this capacity, she provides vision and direction for the Tutoring and Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) programs and provides support to the General Engineering Learning Community. She is also co-developer of Entangled Learning, a framework of rigorously-documented, self-directed collaborative learning. She has an M.A. in Music from The Pennsylvania State University and an M.L.S. from Indiana University.

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Abigail T. Stephan Clemson University

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Abby is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program at Clemson University. Broadly, her research interests include intergenerational learning in informal settings, self-directed learning, and cultural influences on the learning process. Abby currently works as a graduate assistant for the General Engineering Learning Community (GELC), a program that supports first-year engineering students in their development of self-regulation and time management skills, effective learning strategies, and positive habits of mind.

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Elizabeth Anne Stephan Clemson University

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Dr. Elizabeth Stephan is the Director of Academics for the General Engineering Program at Clemson University. She holds a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Akron. Since 2002, she has taught, developed, and and now coordinates the first-year curriculum. As the lead author of the "Thinking Like an Engineer" textbook, currently in its 4th edition, she has been the primary author team–member in charge of the development of the MyEngineeringLab system.

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Our ASEE 2018 paper “Work in Progress: Strategic, Translational Retention Initiatives to Promote Engineering Success” describes a pilot program started in Fall 2017 to leverage existing university resources to support successful course and program outcomes for students entering general engineering with insufficient calculus preparation. The program was continued in Fall 2018 and remains in progress. One component of the program is a learning strategies course focused on skills relevant to success in the students’ three cohorted STEM courses: introductory engineering, general chemistry, and the first semester of an extended, year-long calculus course.

Entangled Learning provides the pedagogical framework for the learning strategies course. The pedagogy is an action-based metacognitive framework for individual and collective self-directed learning. The active processes of Entangled Learning, “designing,” “learning,” “doing,” and “knowing,” are informed by cycles of documenting, self-regulating, critically reflecting, integrating, and collaborating. Course activities and assignments scaffold learning through these actions. Most of the assignments are learning journal activities for which students identify a developmental behavior. Students identify a resource that will inform their decisions on changing their behavior or conceptual understanding, engage with and document their activity, evaluate their results, and derive meaning for themselves as STEM students. Learning journals address self-regulation, time and energy management, self and wellness, learning strategies, and exam wrappers. Additionally, students work collaboratively to apply their developing skills to learn the content in the cohorted courses.

The Entangled Learning framework aligns with the Skillful Learning model of metacognition as presented by Cunningham, Matusovich, and Blackowski in their 2018 ASEE pre-conference workshop “The impact of metacognitive instruction on students’ conceptions of learning and their self-monitoring behaviors.” Their videos and classroom resources elaborate on metacognition as knowledge of cognition (persons, tasks, strategies) and regulation of cognition (planning, monitoring, controlling, evaluating). With permission, we included their Skillful Learning video modules in our learning strategies course and used selected supplemental resources in instruction.

This paper will explain the course design with Entangled Learning as the underlying pedagogy and the use of the Skillful Learning metacognitive instruction resources. We will present an analysis of first-year general engineering students’ ability to engage in practices to promote metacognitive awareness. Analysis of qualitative data will inform a discussion of the effectiveness of our use of the Cunningham, Matusovich, and Blackowski materials with our first-semester freshmen. Qualitative data analysis will also be used to explore students’ ability to demonstrate metacognitive awareness and engagement within the Entangled Learning framework.

Whisler, L., & Stephan, A. T., & Stephan, E. A. (2019, June), Promoting Metacognitive Awareness in a First-Year Learning Strategies Course for Cohorted General Engineering Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33210

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015