Theses Doctoral

The Effects of a Behavioral Metacognitive Task in High School Biology Students

Sussan, Danielle Lisa

Three studies were conducted to examine the effects of a behavioral metacognitive technique on lessening students' illusions of learning. It was proposed that students' study time strategies, and consequently, final performance on a test, in a classroom setting, could be influenced positively by having students engage in metacognitive processing via making wagers regarding their learning. A novel metacognitive paradigm was implemented in three studies during which high school Biology students made prospective (during study, prior to test) metacognitive judgments, using a "betting" paradigm. This behavioral betting paradigm asked students to select either "high confidence" or "low confidence" based on how confident they felt that they would get a Biology concept correct if they were tested later. If a student chose "high confidence" and got the answer right on a later test, then he would gain 3 points. If he chose "high confidence" and got the answer wrong, he would lose 3 points. If a student chose "low confidence," he would gain one point, regardless of accuracy. Students then made study time allocation decisions by choosing whether they needed to study a particular concept "a lot more," "a little more," or "not at all." Afterwards, students had three minutes to study whichever terms they selected for any duration during those three minutes. Finally, a performance test was administered. The results showed that people are generally good at monitoring their own knowledge, in that students performed better on items judged with high confidence bets than on items judged with low confidence bets. Data analyses compared students' Study time Intentions, Actual Study Time, and Accuracy at final test for those who were required to bet versus those who were not. Results showed that students for whom bets were required tended to select relatively longer study than for whom no bets were required. That is, the intentions of those who bet were less overconfident than those who did not bet. However, there were no differences in actual study time or, as one would subsequently expect, in final test performance between the two conditions. The data provide partial evidence of the beneficial effects of directly implementing a non-intrusive metacognitive activity in a classroom setting. Students who completed this prospective bet judgment exhibited, at least, a greater willingness to study. That is, enforcing a betting strategy can increase the deliberative processes of the learner, which in turn can lessen people's illusions of knowing. By encouraging students to deliberate about their own learning, by making prospective bets, students' study time intentions were increased. Thus, it may be helpful to encourage students explicitly to use metacognitive strategies. It was unfortunate that students did not follow through on their intentions sufficiently during actual study, however, and a variety of reasons for this breakdown are discussed. The method used in the current study could potentially benefit students in any classroom setting. Using this non-verbal, behavioral betting paradigm, students are required to engage in metacognitive processes without having to take part in an invasive intervention. The betting paradigm would be easy for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms as it can be incorporated into class work, homework, or even tests and assessments. By asking students to make confidence bets, students may engage in metacognitive processing which they may not have done spontaneously.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Black, John B
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2012