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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigating undergraduate students' metacognitive transformations in an introductory organic chemistry course Welsh, Ashley Jayne


Recently, there has been a considerable number of curricular and pedagogical reform efforts in undergraduate science education to shift from traditional methods of lecturing and assessment to more active, learning-centered environments. While these shifts have introduced significant improvements in students’ conceptions of and engagement with science, the importance of how students learn science is often overshadowed. More specifically, there exists a need to address and enhance students’ metacognitive knowledge and regulation to assist them in effectively monitoring, evaluating, and planning their learning. This study investigated the catalysts that influenced students’ metacognitive transformations in an introductory organic chemistry course for biological science majors. A case study approach employing a combination of surveys, classroom observations, and interviews was used to investigate: 1) the catalysts (and their characteristics) influencing students’ metacognitive transformations; 2) the role of social environments in these transformations; and 3) the supports/barriers various groups of students perceived as influential to their metacognitive transformation. Analysis of the data corpus suggested performance-based assessment methods as the most influential to students’ metacognitive transformations and as overshadowing the resources designed to enhance students’ metacognition and self-efficacy. Despite the desire to engage students with their learning, the results from the SEMLI-S (Self-Efficacy and Metacognition Learning Inventory – Science) survey revealed a significant drop in students’ ability: to connect constructively with the course material; to effectively monitor, evaluate, and plan their learning; and to be confident in their ability to succeed in the course. Students attributed their lack of prerequisite content and metacognitive knowledge and the overwhelming quantity of course content as constraining their ability to actively engage in their learning. Some students, however, successfully employed metacognitive ii strategies and offered explicit descriptions of how and why they developed and/or adapted their learning strategies prior to or during the course of the semester. This study also provided insight into how students perceived and negotiated their learning, both individually and collaboratively. The findings from this study have implications on how undergraduate science curriculum and pedagogy might embrace learner-centered pedagogies to enhance students’ metacognition and self-efficacy.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada