174: Assessing Metacognition (4 of 4)



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  1. Everyday Ethical Dilemmas
    • Description
      • Students respond briefly and anonymously to abbreviated case studies with moral dilemmas that relate to the course
    • Purpose
      • Students identify and clarify their own values and how these relate to moral dilemmas of the course
      • Students learn how values impact decision making
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Decide on one specific ethical issue to focus on.
      • Locate a short case that illustrates the essential ethical dilemma in a few lines.
      • Write 2-3 questions that require students to take a position in the case and explain their reasoning for their decision.
      • Ask students to write short anonymous responses.
      • Allow time in class or outside class to complete the assessment.
    • Analysis Steps
      • Separate papers based on the position they took and tally responses.
      • Within each pile of similar responses, look for patterns in their rationales for their responses.
      • Share interesting insights and patterns with students and discuss implications of these for the course.
    • Extension Ides
      • After students have submitted responses, have students discuss the issues in small groups.  Then have them complete the assessment again to see if decisions and rationales changed.
      • Classify responses according to course frameworks or framework that describe ethical development.  See Perry’s schemes of intellectual and ethical development for ideas.
      • Ask students to answer cases from 2 different viewpoints.
      • Assign students task of creating Everyday Ethical Dilemmas for the class to analyze and discuss.
    • Pros
      • Students practice thinking through ethical dilemmas and get feedback on these processes.
      • Gathers data that helps teachers develop students’ ethical reasoning skills.
    • Cons
      • Students who are fixed in their opinions may see this exercise as a waste of time.
      • Teachers may lose respect for students based on their opinions.
    • Caveats
      • Start with minor dilemmas and work your way up.  This gradual buildup can build up trust, confidence and skill.
  2. Course-Related Self-Confidence Surveys
    • Description
      • Students answer questions that assess their self-confidence in relationship to course specific skills and activities.
    • Purpose
      • Knowledge of skills that students feel confidence with (and not) can help teachers design learning experiences that better support students
      • Can help students set up positive feedback loops – i.e. they can focus on skills they need which will build competence and confidence
    • Step-by-Step Procedure
      • Focus on skills or abilities that are important to success in a course
      • Make up questions to assess students’ competence or confidence in these specific skills
      • Create a simple survey form for gathering the data
      • Gather responses anonymously during class time
    • Analysis Steps
      • Tally responses to questions.  If this is done in Google forms, this tallying can be done quickly in Google spreadsheets.
    • Extension Ides
      • Have students discuss the skills in teams and brainstorm methods to build confidence or competence in each skill.
      • Ask follow-up questions to identify what classroom variables most influence confidence and how these can be changed to promote confidence
    • Pros
      • Can identify what students are confident and anxious about in terms of course-specific skills
      • Can offer relief to students to see that others struggle in areas where they struggle
      • Teaches students that self-confidence helps with learning
    • Cons
      • Some students are overconfident about their skills and therefore are harder to teach
      • Discovery of low self esteem may hurt teacher and student morale
    • Caveats
      • Teach students to associate confidence with performance so that their confidence can increase as they start to demonstrate more skill
      • Be aware that some serious problems with self esteem won’t be remedied by the course
The Everyday Ethical Dilemmas assessments can reveal how students reason through ethical dilemmas that relate to the course.  Making students aware of these controversial cases can help students see the value in content-specific information and skills that can be applied to analyze and evaluate the case.


The Course-Related Self Confidence Surveys can help students and teachers be aware of what skills student’s feel are strengths and what skills they may struggle with.  Knowing this profile for the students in the course can help teachers reframe projects and project scaffolding to leverage student strengths and to improve upon student gaps.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide what you like to learn about students’ skills.
  • Decide what strategy will yield the knowledge about students’ skills you want.
  • Develop resources related the selected strategy.  See above for details.
Early Implementation Steps
  • .Explain the purpose for the assessment.
  • Give students time in class to complete the assessment.
  • Analyze the assessment.
  • Share key results from analyzing the assessment with students and facilitate a related discussion with students.
  • Describe how key results will impact future teaching and learning in the course.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Try out the enrichment activities described above.
  • Use knowledge gained from the assessments to refine related project scaffolding so that it better meets students’ needs.

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