173: Assessing Metacognition (3 of 4)

  1. Classroom Opinion Polls
    • Description
      • Students complete anonymous polls of their opinions
    • Purpose
      • Discover student opinions related to course-related issues
      • Helps students become aware of opinions that can support or hinder learning
      • Teachers can get advance information that can help him or her better frame course-related issues
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Preview upcoming materials and search for issues that may have related opinions that can affect learning.
      • Choose 1-2 issues to convert to Classroom Opinion Poll questions.
      • Create a polling electronic form or paper form.  Tools for electronic forms: Socrative, Nearpod, PollEveryhwere, Mentimeter
      • Administer the assessment.  Remind students not to put their names on the paper forms if you use these.
    • Analysis Steps
      • Count and tally responses.
      • Electronic tools (see above) will count and tally responses automatically.
    • Extension Ides
      • Ask students to justify their responses.
      • Have students write rebuttals for opinions different than their own.
      • Let students come up with polling questions.
    • Pros
      • Low floor task that is accessible to all
      • Showing poll results helps students acknowledge the diversity of opinions in the class
      • Teachers gain info that can help refine/reframe future lessons
    • Cons
      • May find that students are opposed to using evidence to justify opinions
      • Students may find it difficult to commit to a response
    • Caveats
      • Be prepared to discuss issues related to opinion polls
      • Gather assessment data anonymously
      • Model respectful consideration of varied opinions
      • May opt to summarize data in private in order to hide reactions to unexpected surprises in the data
  2. Double Entry Journals
    • Description
      • Students take notes in 2 columns.  On one column that write key ideas, assertions and arguments learned during activity.  In the other column they explain the personal significance of those ideas and ask questions of the ideas.
    • Purpose
      • Detailed feedback on how students read, analyze and respond to assigned texts
      • Teachers learn what students value in the text
      • Students learn about how course issues relates to issues in their personal lives
      • Students become more aware of how they read and respond to texts
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Select important parts of text to be annotated.  Should be short, challenging and provocative.
      • Show students how to setup notebook page for the strategy.
      • Model how to use the strategy by getting the annotations started on both columns while thinking aloud.
        • on left column – copy key quotes and passages from the text
        • on right column – explain why they chose each excerpt – could include agreements, disagreements, questions etc
        • encourage 2 columns to interact like a dialogue
    • Analysis Steps
      • Compare students’ left column to key points in the text
      • Try to categorize the types of responses that appear in the right column
    • Extension Ides
      • Let students do a double entry journal on a lecture – provide recording of the lecture
      • May offer 2-3 excerpts for them to interpret and have them add a couple more items in the right column
      • Use as first step in a bigger writing assignment – write an essay based on double entry journal
      • After they’ve done this several times, get students to look over several double entry journals and notice patterns in the types of excerpts they choose to include
    • Pros
      • Student practice careful reading and responding to texts
      • Encourages students to look for personal meanings in texts
    • Cons
      • Students may try to write for the teacher instead of candidly write for themselves
      • Students may struggle with this strategy at first
    • Caveats
      • Importance to distinguish between lack of skill with this note-taking strategy and lack of awareness
      • Students may need a lot of coaching before students start genuinely sharing their opinions
  3. Profiles of Admirable Individuals
    • Description
      • Students write a brief focused profile of an individual in a field related to the course whose values, skills and/or actions they admire
    • Purpose
      • Teachers learn what students value
      • Students acknowledge what they value in professions related to the course
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Try out strategy yourself – write a profile for an admirable individual for a course.
      • Decide what criteria you will use to assess the profiles.
      • Develop clear instructions for profiles.  Be sure to include length limits and to define what populations students can draw their people from
    • Analysis Steps
      • Notice the characteristics and values that appear repeatedly in students’ profiles.  Tally these.
    • Extension Ides
      • Provide a list of people who students can write profiles for in case they can’t come up with a person.
      • Have students rank the characteristics in their profiles in order from most to least important.
      • Have students write parallel profiles of people who are not admirable and explain their negative appraisals.
      • Have students work in teams to read each other’s appraisals and come up with a composite list of admirable characteristics.
    • Pros
      • Requires students to consider their own values.
      • Teachers can learn about role models who have influenced students.
    • Cons
      • May make some students uncomfortable.
      • May need to do research to identify people for profiles.
      • Specifying admirable characteristics of individuals can be challenging.
    • Caveats
      • Keep assessments anonymous
      • Model how to write good profiles that elaborate on individual’s admirable qualities
      • If students chose someone you’ve never heard of, remembers that identifying the admirable qualities is more important than knowing the role model


All 3 of these strategies have students notice and share personal connections they are making with course.  Making personal connections with course materials is one powerful way to motivate students and to help them remember new content.


Classroom opinion polls can help teachers identify student opinions that may help or hinder learning in the course.  The double entry journal can help teachers see what students value in assigned texts and why they value these.  The profiles of admirable individuals can help teachers see what positive characteristics students see and value in professionals who relate to the course.


Preparation Steps
  • Identify what you would like to learn about students’ beliefs, ideas, etc.
  • Identify the strategy that would most readily access the information you’d like to learn about students.
  • Create resources that go with the selected strategy.  See above for details.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Describe how to complete the assessment.  Provide early coaching in the from of modeling if needed.
  • Give students time to complete the assessment inside or outside of class.
  • Analyze the assessment to look for interesting patterns and comparisons.  Compare these with course character learning targets
  • Share insights from analyzing the assessment with the class.  Facilitate discussions related to these insights.
  • Describe to students how these insights will impact future teaching and learning in the course.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Try out some of the extension activities.  See above.
  • Use knowledge of students to reframe upcoming projects and scaffolding activities to more closely engage with students’ interests and values.



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