Engineerica Academic Centers Blog Webinar Recap – Metacognition: The Key to Achieving Educational Equity and Excellence

Webinar Recap – Metacognition: The Key to Achieving Educational Equity and Excellence

We were thrilled to be joined by Dr. Saundra McGuire in our latest Engineerica Education Keynote Webinar. Dr. McGuire is an expert in the field of metacognition, and spoke to our audience about how metacognitive strategies can help close the equity gap in higher education. The full complimentary webinar is available to view here, but if you want a preview of what was discussed, read on.

What is Metacognition?
In case you’re not familiar with the term, metacognition is, simply put, the ability to think about your own thinking, and being conscious of yourself as a problem solver. Dr. McGuire pointed out that we are seeing more and more evidence that students who don’t achieve well have the ability to do so, but they lack the metacognitive strategies of successful students. Prior to college, most students don’t have to learn these strategies, and so they often get left behind.

Metacognitive Equity
To achieve equity, we must close the gap of outcomes between advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Metacognition can help this by reducing the discrepancy in thinking strategies and removing obstacles in order to get equal participation from all students. Dr. McGuire discussed many strategies that can help close that gap. Here are a few:

  • Reducing content coverage in introductory courses and replacing it with instruction in metacognitive skills. This may sound scary to a lot of instructors and institutions, but there are ways to introduce this idea with lower risk. Dr. McGuire discussed a program she started that would send support staff to classes where the professor was unable to make it, and spend the time teaching metacognitive skills, instead of forcing the professor to cancel class.
  • Teaching effective study strategies. Dr. McGuire reviewed some of these specific strategies in the webinar, such as teaching students to do their homework as if it is the test.
  • Teaching students it’s okay to make mistakes. A surprisingly large number of students don’t think it’s okay to make mistakes at pretty much any point of the learning process, including well before the test. This can trap students into a fixed mindset about their ability to learn, which has an overall negative effect on their learning outcomes. By teaching students that it’s okay, even expected and normal, for them to make mistakes, we can help close that equity gap.
  • Asking students if they can teach the material to someone else if asked. This comes down to a fundamental difference between memorizing and understanding. Many students believe that to pass a test, they must be able to simply memorize and recite information, but in fact, true success in a college course usually comes from understanding the material. The best way for many students to know that they understand the material is to be able to teach it to someone else. Dr. McGuire talked about creative ways students have tested this ability on themselves. One student, for example, makes sure they can explain the material to their pet betta fish!
  • Teach and Utilize Bloom’s Taxonomy. Dr. McGuire points out that many students report being told something like, “This is college; you need to kick it up a notch!” when they start their higher education journey, but few know exactly what that means. Bloom’s Taxonomy provides the context for them to understand that statement. This is a hierarchy of learning levels students tend to go through as they move up in their education. Instructors and support staff (such as tutors!) are in a prime position to teach students about Bloom’s Taxonomy, and how understanding it and where they currently fall on the scale can help them succeed in college. 

Closing the equity gap for students is not an easy prospect, but it’s made easier with techniques that Dr. McGuire and her colleagues have developed. We are so pleased to present this complimentary webinar to our audience. If you want to view the full presentation yourself, you can do so here. Keep an eye on your email and on our social media for an announcement about the next Engineerica Education Keynote Webinar.

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