Enhancing Science Learning and Collaboration through Social Metacognition
Effective Years: 2023-2026
This project aims to serve the national interest by enhancing science learning and collaboration for undergraduate students in biology and biochemistry. The Nation’s ability to stay on the leading edge of scientific development hinges on a STEM workforce with well-developed collaboration skills. Some evidence suggests that successful collaboration depends on social metacognition, or the awareness and regulation of another’s thinking. Social metacognition occurs when one person stimulates metacognition in another. This happens when one person monitors or evaluates their own understanding or another’s understanding out loud for others to hear. This project will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze audio and video data from introductory college biology labs and biochemistry classrooms to determine how social metacognition and students’ perceptions of social metacognition impact collaboration in these contexts. This project will result in fundamental knowledge and understanding of how social metacognition impacts collaboration. Additionally, this project will allow the principal investigator (PI) to develop skills in fundamental STEM education research through mentoring and formal learning opportunities.
The goals of this project are to generate fundamental knowledge about social metacognition’s impact on collaboration and to build capacity in the PI to conduct high quality fundamental STEM education research. To meet these goals, this mixed methods project will 1) characterize social metacognition that occurs across science contexts and its impact on collaboration, and 2) determine how students’ perceptions of naturally-occurring social metacognition vary across different science contexts. To accomplish the first objective, statistical discourse analysis, a form of dynamic multilevel hierarchical linear modeling, will be used to test hypotheses about how social metacognition and other explanatory variables impact collaboration in two science class contexts. The use of statistical discourse analysis will enable strong inferences to be made in a field that traditionally centers qualitative methods. To accomplish the second objective, individual students from introductory biology labs and biochemistry courses will be shown selected video clips of naturally-occurring social metacognition from their group work sessions and asked to recall what they were thinking and feeling in the moment. Through this stimulated recall method and the lens of politeness theory, student perceptions of social metacognition will be identified. Student perceptions of social metacognition are currently missing from the field and this information has implications for the development of social metacognition interventions. A professional development plan that includes coursework and mentorship from experts in social metacognition, statistical discourse analysis, and stimulated recall methods will ensure the primary investigator builds the knowledge and skillset needed to carry out the project. This project is supported by NSF’s EDU Core Research Building Capacity in STEM Education Research (ECR: BCSER) program, which is designed to build investigators’ capacity to carry out high-quality STEM education research in the core areas of STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.