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Utility of Post-Hoc Audio Reflection to Expose Metacognition and Strategy Use by First-Year Engineering Students for Different Problem Types

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 5A: Work-In-Progress: 5 Minute Postcard Session I

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First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Heidi Cian Clemson University

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Heidi Cian is a PhD student enrolled in Clemson University's Curriculum and Instruction program with a concentration in science education. Heidi is a former high school biology and anatomy teacher.

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Michelle Cook Clemson University

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Michelle Cook is an Associate Professor of Science Education in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson University.

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Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in Bioengineering. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, and their problem solving processes. Other projects in the Benson group include effects of student-centered active learning, self-regulated learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and mathematics classrooms. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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This work-in-progress paper identifies metacognitive activities and problem solving strategies utilized by first-year engineering students to solve different types of problems. Our research question is: What problem solving strategies and metacognitive activities are revealed by students’ post-hoc audio reflections on their solutions to three different types of engineering problems (story, open-ended, exercise)?

This study was conducted with first-year engineering students at our institution over two semesters. Students solved problems using tablets and custom-designed software that recorded student written work and erasures. Students then would watch playback of their problem solution and insert verbal comments into their work (post-hoc audio reflection). Analysis of students’ written data did not reveal much about metacognition and only afforded minimal insight into strategy use. Audio data was then analyzed for strategy use and types of metacognitive activity for the three problem types.

Our analysis suggests that students do employ different strategies for different problems; open-ended and story problems are more likely to elicit metacognition in general, and few students articulated their thinking for exercise problems. Most metacognition occurred in the form of monitoring and evaluating, with little evidence of planning. Several strategies are used by students for all problems, but some are unique to specific types of problems. These findings demonstrate the usefulness of post-hoc audio reflection in engineering education research to better assess and address students’ metacognition and problem solving strategies.

Cian, H., & Cook, M., & Benson, L. (2016, June), Utility of Post-Hoc Audio Reflection to Expose Metacognition and Strategy Use by First-Year Engineering Students for Different Problem Types Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27173

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