This year we are working on a thesis project that seeks to understand the role of metacognition in learning. Simply put, metacognition is thinking about thinking. It refers to the comprehension of and control over one’s own thinking processes. Metacognition encompasses activities like understanding an assignment, planning how to complete the work, and reflecting on its result. In order to know more about metacognition’s role in education, we are designing and implementing a ten-session intervention for Ms. Avery’s eighth grade social studies students at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. For each intervention session, one of us teaches a lesson plan that focuses on a metacognitive and a cognitive skill, such as planning and highlighting effectively, respectively. The lesson plan includes a presentation, discussion, and activities for the students.
We have been busy planning our project for much of this semester. We spent hours slogging through extensive research literature on the topic. Additionally, we received IRB research ethics approval early in the fall. This allowed us to send consent forms home to students without any rush. At this point in time, Emily has worked with Ms. Avery to design ten sessions that cover both cognitive and metacognitive strategies, while still relating to social studies and being engaging for students. Meanwhile, Tim has been working to develop a new measure of metacognition for adolescents. Although there are a few options for testing and measuring metacognition in young people, no measure is derived from the theoretical model of metacognition that has informed our project. We hope that designing a measure specifically for adolescents, and in relation to our model of metacognition, will enable us to create a new, valid metacognitive measure.
Most recently, having collected the pre-test data from the students, we have finally been able to start the intervention! We each teach one control and one treatment group, and have visited every class at least once so far. This process has led to both excitement and apprehension. The age gap between the students and us can be tricky at times since our experience as teachers for this age group is limited. Simultaneously though, it has been exciting to work with students and teach a topic that many of them are looking forward to learning about. Research shows a strong link between high levels of metacognitive strategy use and higher academic performance. We hope our intervention gives students the tools required to both perform better in and get more enjoyment out of school.
The first few classes have been great so far. The students have enjoyed hearing about our experiences and stories. One example of this is the excitement and questions that were brought about through a picture of Emily’s dog. Students seem even more intrigued about Trinity and college in general, asking questions that include, “What was the first day like?” “Did you get a scholarship for Trinity?” “What classes are you taking?” “When do you eat lunch at college?” and so on. Hearing about our difficulties with school and how we corrected them have made the students feel more comfortable with our help. In the later sessions, we will really be getting down to work: explaining the ins and outs of metacognitive and cognitive skills. Aside from a few moments here and there when Ms. Avery has to tell some students to focus, the classes have evoked stern attention and interest from the students. We are very pleased with our success so far and hope that the students remain as engaged over the next few months!