172: Assessing Metacognition (2 of 4)





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  1. Goal Ranking and Matching
    • Description
      • Students list a few learning goals they have for the course and rank their importance and difficulty.
    • Purpose
      • Measures degree of fit between student and teacher goals
      • Can be used to create shared class goals
      • Students identify and clarify their learning goals
      • Students connect their learning goals with course goals
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Clarify instructional goals for the course.  This can be down by writing long term character learning targets for the course.
      • Assess negotiability and flexibility of character learning targets – are you willing to change these in response to knowing students’ goals?  If not, don’t use use this assessment.
      • Ask students to list 3 to 5 specific goals they have for the course.  Eliminate common answers such as: to do well in the course, to complete course requirements.
      • Direct students to rank goals from most to least important.  May need to model this step.
      • (Time allowing) Direct students to rank goals from most to least difficult.
      • Collect the responses and tells students what data will be used for and when you will discuss related analyses.
    • Analysis Steps
      • Categorize responses with similar goals.  What goals are most common?
      • Can tally up the number of votes that go with each type of goal.
      • Decide whether or not to incorporate student goals into course goals.
      • Compare student goals to course goals.
    • Extension Ides
      • Ask students to rank goals by amount of time needed to reach these.
      • Have students complete the assessment in teams
      • Do follow-up assessment mid-course and end-of-course.  Look for changes in student goals.  More specific? More realistic?
      • Can have students plot learning goals on an importance difficulty matrix so they can label goals as: targeted, high value, strategic and luxurious
    • Pros
      • Students become aware of how their learning goals (or lack of) connect to the course
      • Assess overlap in teacher and student goals
      • Nice conversation starter for course goals and aims
    • Cons
      • Students may struggle to articulate their own goals
      • Students are not used to critiquing course goals
      • Students may get discouraged by mismatches in student and teacher goals
    • Caveats
      • Being aware of goals takes practice
      • Don’t ask if you don’t want to know
      • Don’t hesitate to compare/contrast teacher and student goals (be transparent)
      • Make an effort to respond to student goals in some way
  2. Self-Assessment of Ways of Learning
    • Description
      • Students compare themselves to profiles to identify their preferred ways of learning
    • Purpose
      • Assess students’ preferring learning styles and modes
      • Teachers can use approaches that match students’ learning styles
      • Students realize their learning styles and can make choices that make learning more efficient for them
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Select a framework for describing learning styles and preferences.
      • Determine main categories within selected framework.
      • Create profiles of learners that fit different types in the framework.
      • Design prompts that will have students identify their affinity for one (or more) of the learning profiles and explain their affinity
      • Create a 1 page handout with assessment questions and related profiles.
      • Trial the form.
      • Administer the assessment.
    • Analysis Steps
      • Tally up responses for each type of profile.
      • Show data summary to the class and lead discussion on implications of the data summary on future instruction and learning.
    • Extension Ides
      • Organize class debate teams by grouping together students with similar learning profiles.
      • Asks students to identify pros and cons of their preferred learning type
      • Ask students how someone in their style would approach a learning task
      • Organize study groups that mix up students with different learning styles
    • Pros
      • Students learn to acknowledge multiple learning styles
      • Students become more aware of preferred learning style
      • Students may experiment with different learning styles
      • Teacher can gain quick insight into learning styles without using complicated inventories
    • Cons
      • Students with multiple styles may oversimplify their preferences by having to choose one
    • Caveats
      • Treat learning styles as tendencies, not absolute prerequisites.
      • Learning styles can be context dependent
      • Allow students to make relative choices to describe their preferences


These assessments can help teachers gather information on students’ learning goals and learning styles.  Knowing either or both of these can help teachers refine their course goals to better connect with students.  Knowing the predominant learning styles in a class can help teachers select activities and assessments that favor those learning styles.  Knowing students’ learning goals can help teachers engage students by alerting them to activities and goals that overlap with their goals.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide what information you would like to gather about students’ learning.  Decide how you will use that information.
  • Select the strategy that will harvest the information you want most.
  • Create a handout that goes with the selected strategy.  See above for details.
  • Share with students how you will use the information gathered by the assessment.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Administer the assessment.
  • Analyze the assessment – look for interesting patterns and comparisons.
  • Share results with the class and their impact on future instruction and learning.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Implement some of the extension ideas described above.
  • Use student data to refine overall course goals, lesson formats, and project products.

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