This Complete Research Paper examines the impact of metacognitive interventions through Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions, implemented at our university in first year engineering courses in fall 2019. The SI program is an academic support program created in 1973 at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, to improve grades in traditionally “difficult” classes, promote student retention and increase graduation rates.
To improve academic success, the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program provides voluntary, non-remedial sessions designed to combine review of difficult content and additional practice opportunities, and transferable study effectiveness skills to benefit the student in all coursework at the institution. The program uses a peer-assisted learning model where SI leaders, undergraduates who have completed the course successfully, are selected and trained in teaching and learning, offer two sessions per week that incorporates peer and collaborative learning strategies married with course material review.
Metacognition is broadly defined as knowledge and regulation of one’s own learning. Several researchers have shown evidence for explicit instruction of metacognition and its benefits to student learning and outcomes (Palinscar, 1986; Flavel, 1987; Hacker et al.,1998; Schraw, 2001; Schraw and Gutierrez, 2015) However, interventions that explicitly teach metacognitive practices to college students is lacking, with most research simply measuring metacognitive awareness and its link to achievement (Pressley et al., 1998; Young and Fry, 2008). There is also some debate about general metacognitive strategies (Schraw, 1998) vs. disciplinary-specific metacognitive practices and instruction (Volet, 1991; Tanner, 2012).
A study conducted using modelling and coaching of discipline-specific metacognitive strategies in an introductory computer science course using peer tutors had significant impact on students' ability to apply knowledge to programming problems and also had long-term effects on students' future course outcomes (Volet, 1991). Results from this article gave credence to the concept of teaching and training peer educators, such as tutors and SI Leaders to conduct metacognitive interventions in SI sessions to promote student learning.
The SI model was built upon theories including metacognition (Congos, 2002) and already implicitly incorporate metacognitive practices. We also know the nature of the SI collaborative learning practices can improve students’ use of effective study techniques (Lai, 2011). However, there is little research on explicit instruction of metacognition in SI sessions. Therefore, we were interested in learning if explicit instruction of the SI model and its metacognitive underpinnings, as well as instruction on how to use metacognitive practices in their own study time would have impact on students’ awareness and use of metacognitive practices, as well as overall course grades.
The historically successful and evidence-based Supplemental Instruction (SI) program was introduced in at this university in 2015 through a collaboration between the School of Engineering and the campus Learning Center. The supported courses include freshman level introductory courses to Electrical Engineering and Computing. These are required courses for the Electrical and Computer engineering students at the university, and report high percentages of D’s, F’s, Q’s (drops), and W’s (withdraws).
This report investigates the impact of explicit metacognitive training and lesson planning for SI Leaders and two rounds of explicit metacognitive instruction in SI sessions. The study will utilize a mixed-methods approach, incorporating quantitative data relating to grades and SI session attendance with qualitative data relating to student awareness and use of metacognitive practices. The collaborators will use students’ SI session attendance, students’ demographic data, and the D’s, F’s, W’s and Q drop rates (QDFW rates) and end of semester course grades for attendees and non-attendees. Qualitative data will be collected in the form of surveys administered to attendees in fall 2019 that incorporates questions from the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (Schraw and Dennison, 1994).
As the SI program’s effectiveness is assessed by aiming to reduce the QDFW rates in first year engineering courses and in turn retain more students to the ECE program, we plan to provide an in-depth analysis of how the SI program affects specific demographics, as well as compare students outcomes using SAT scores for a more accurate reflection of the effects of SI.
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