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A Community of Practice Matters

The VSU Metacognitive Faculty Scholars Group is just one of several Communities of Practices supported by the HBCU STEM-US Analytic Hub which are encouraged to participate in Transcendent Intervention Strategies.

The Communities coalesce around strategies promoting Generative Dissemination, Strength-Based Assessments and Humanizing Academic Interventions. The goal is to promote scientific scholarship including the Science of Teaching and Learning at HBCU’s and other minority serving institutions.

Metacognitive Pedagogy:
Teaching Students How to Learn…While Teaching
Michelle Mosely, Ph.D., Chaya Jain, Ph.D., Wanda Velez, M.S., Grace Ndip, Ph.D.,
and Cheryl P. Talley, Ph.D. Virginia State University

INTRODUCTION Teach Students How to Learn by Saundra McGuire (2015) focuses on Metacognition, a cognitive process that includes planning, monitoring and evaluation of one’s own behavior. For academic behaviors, metacognitive self-regulation requires a student to monitor their own learning and maintain or alter strategies in order to obtain desired results. Another aspect of Metacognition is self-awareness, where students have an awareness of their own emotions and motivations (Flavel, 1976). While many agree that metacognitive skills are beneficial for students, it is difficult to identify where these skills are formally taught or honed during matriculation. A strategy of “teaching as an academic intervention” was recently employed at Virginia State University with 19 VSU faculty and staff members implementing metacognitive strategies from McGuire’s book. Targeted classes were 100, 200, & 300-level from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Hospitality Management, Mathematics, Political Science, and Freshman Studies.


Low student performance led to the use of the intervention. Faculty reported the causes as 1) low attendance, 2) lack of motivation for rigorous work, 3) low engagement 4) incomplete assignments, and/or 5) students not purchasing textbooks. Because the causes varied, different techniques were used to introduce students to metacognitive concepts.


Preliminary results suggest a positive relationship between students’ metacognitive strategies predicting their learning performance and a likelihood that students will continue to use the learning strategies in subsequent courses.


Faculty reported that there is much more to the use of metacognitive strategies than adding or changing a course assignment. A major course restructuring is required. Faculty participants noted that a change in teaching philosophy was necessary because the intervention was bi-directional. A shift was required to consider the planning, monitoring and evaluation of learning outcomes as important as the course content. Helpful in this effort was the regular meeting of the community of practice through- out the year. One other recommendation was for incoming students to be introduced and inundated with training in metacognitive concepts by having the topics introduced in multiple lower level courses. It was also thought that a campus-wide media blitz would benefit all students.


McGuire, S.Y. & McGuire, S. (2015). Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies you can incorporate into any course to improve students metacognition, study skills and motivation, Sterling, VA : Stylus Publishing

Flavell, J.H. (1976) Metacognitive aspects of problem solving In L.B. Resnick (Ed). The nature of intelligence (pp 223-236). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum

Funded by the National Science Foundation

Award #1238757 & #2010676

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