Student knowledge, learning contexts, and metacognition
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Studying cognition and metacognition in the classroom poses difficulties for researchers, as they are ambiguous and often mischaracterized in scholarship. Additionally, practical applications are limited, as most of the research tends to be theoretical. Designed around innovative modules that feature 3-D computer environments of biological processes (the modules), this three-part study addresses these issues. In the first article, students’ conceptions of osmosis, diffusion, and filtration were examined as represented by their responses on questions both internal and external to the modules. In-depth analysis of data from six students showed that the modules had very little impact on student knowledge. Additionally, higher scores on forced-choice versus free-response questions indicated rote, rather than meaningful, learning. In the second article, students’ knowledge was characterized over a variety of learning contexts to determine how demonstration of knowledge differs depending on context. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, three students’ construction of knowledge at different stages was characterized. Despite fairly consistent test scores, students maintained misconceptions related to molecule movement, concentration gradients, and equilibrium. The third article focused on metacognition and how the current literature could be incorporated into a new model that researchers could utilize to code think-aloud interview transcripts for cognitive and metacognitive knowledge and monitoring skills. The model that resulted showed promise as both a tool to assess students’ learning and instructional techniques and effectiveness. Using the model, researchers will be able to use the concurrent think-aloud protocol in a more effective manner.