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New Metacognition Study & How I’m Thinking Of Applying It In My Classes – Feedback Welcome!

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I write about – and try to encourage my students to use – metacognition (see Best Posts On Metacognition).

A study has just been announced that has a new (at least, to me) “take” on it that I’m considering adapting to my own classroom.

You can read a summary of the research at Metacognition training boosts gen chem exam scores.

The researchers used a college chemistry class to try out some metacognitive techniques. It has some intriguing twists on it different from other related studies I’ve seen, particularly its use of the Dunning-Kruger Effect (see Useful New TED Video & Lesson On The Dunning-Kruger Effect and here) which, as the article states:

people who perform poorly at a task tend to overestimate their performance ability, while those who excel at the task may slightly underestimate their competence.

The researchers had their students take three practice tests each week.  In the experimental group, students had to predict how they would do and, then, after seeing their results, the would receive recommendations for a specific study plan to use so they could improve the next time.

Here were their results:

By the final exam, students’ predictions of their scores were about right on, or a little underpredicted. Overall, the researchers report, students who learned metacognition skills scored around 4 percent higher on the final exam than their peers in the control section. But the strongest improvement was in the bottom quartile of students, who scored a full 10 percent better, on average, than the bottom quartile of the control section.

So, that’s a quick summary of the study.

One thing is for sure – I’m not going to have students start taking three tests each week and design an online system to give specific feedback on a study plan!

However, the idea of using the Dunning-Kruger Effect to students predict their grade and provide specific feedback does seem interesting.

I always have my students use a self-assessment sheet right before grades are due and most, thought not all, of students’ conclusions line-up with mine.  You can see the ones I use (for my mainstream and ELL classes) at Student Self-Assessments For Mr. Ferlazzo’s Students.

Based on this new study, I’m thinking of giving these assessments to students at the beginning of each grade period and having them predict how they’ll do in each area.  Then, in the middle of the grading period, taking them out again and having a very brief individual meeting with each student where I give them a chance to review it again. Then, both they and I share if his/her work so far corresponds with the prediction.

Obviously, it’s not a three-times-week activity like those in the study, but it does seem to apply the concepts behind the research.

I don’t really see any negative to trying it out.  I realize I probably should not do it in at least one class so there is some kind of control group, but I don’t feel like I can ethically do that since I think it will probably be a beneficial intervention.

What are your thoughts?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. I LOVE this idea. John Hatte, as you likely know, claims that self-reported grades have among the highest effect strength for student learning. https://vimeo.com/41465488 Your strategy harnesses this power in an easy-to-implement way.

    I think, it might be interesting and beneficial to add a place for students to comment on their growth toward the actual content and language learning targets in a given unit. Similarly, a place for them to comment on their process toward meeting the goals they set for themselves (I know you, like me, are big on helping students set, monitor, and meet their own goals.)

    This would not only help them think about their own growth but also allow them the opportunity to see the overarching intended learning of a unit on a regular basis. It is easy for students (and teachers) to loose sight of them.

    Great idea! I know you’ll have fun with it! I’ll be interested to hear what you learn.

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