Julie Dangremond Stanton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Cellular Biology
University of Georgia
Students with awareness and control of their own thinking can learn more and perform better than students who are not metacognitive. Metacognitive regulation is how you control your thinking in order to learn. It includes the skill of evaluation, which is the ability to appraise your approaches to learning and modify your plans based on those appraisals. Metacognitive skills can have a significant impact on learning and performance, but many undergraduate students are still developing these abilities. We need to understand the important changes that occur as students acquire these skills in order to help them develop their metacognition more effectively. We used the task of preparing for an exam as a way to explore the metacognitive skills undergraduate students use to learn biology. We analyzed qualitative data from students' self-evaluation assignments and research interviews. From this analysis, we proposed a continuum of metacognitive development in introductory biology students. We also gained insights into when, why, and how upper-division biology students evaluate their approaches to learning, and the barriers these students face when they try to change their plans based on their evaluations. These data have implications for how undergraduate students learn biology. We offer evidence-based suggestions for instructors who want to help improve student metacognition.
Host: Chrissy Spencer