Open SUNY Fellow Chat: Metacognitive Café

Open SUNY Fellow Chat: Metacognitive Café


– [Erin] Alright, hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today. My name is Erin Maney,
if I don’t know you, and I am the manager of communications and community engagement for Open SUNY. On behalf of the whole Open SUNY team, I wanna welcome you to this fellow chat. The Open SUNY fellow
chat series features our Open SUNY fellows and
their work to support our mission of networking,
interaction, and excellence in online teaching and learning practices. I just wanna briefly introduce
you to our community. If you’re not familiar, Open
SUNY fellows are members of SUNY campuses and
friends of SUNY from partner organizations and institutions. Our community represents expertise in online teaching and learning through a variety of engagement opportunities such as
today’s fellow chat webinar. Once we begin, I will
post a link in the chat to invite you to join our
dynamic community if you are interested in doing so. Our fellow chat today
showcases how students in online history and economics classes participated in metacognition,
building activities through a low stakes weekly
discussion forum called the Metacognitive Cafe which I just love. We are joined today by Judith
Littlejohn and John Kane. Judy is the instructional
designer at SUNY Genesee Community College, and teaches
history courses online. And John is the professor of
economics and the director of the Center for Excellence
in Learning and Teaching at SUNY Oswego. So thank you both for joining us today, and I’ll turn this over to you. – [John] Thank you. – [Judy] Alright, and I
will share our screen. (typewriter clicks) Okay, how is that? – That’s good. – [Judy] Okay. Hang on, and move on to the next slide. Okay. You ready? – I’m seeing the last
slide, wait a minute. Okay, there we go. – [Judy] All set? – Mhm. – Okay, so here again, as
Erin mentioned, I’m Judy, and he’s John with their
email addresses there, and we’ll show this again
at the end if anybody wants to contact for any more
discussion about the topic. And we’re hoping that
in the next few minutes everyone will learn how
these discussion emerged, how the different ways you
might be able to incorporate something similar into your own classes, and ways that we can share resources with you. So we were gonna start a little bit of a description about
the Metacognitive Cafe. They’re low stakes discussion
forums that both John and I do in online classes. We do them weekly, and in each discussion we’re trying to get students to reflect a little bit on how they learn and become aware of the learning process, and teach them or help them realize what learning processes, what is more affective, and ways
that they can become aware of what they’re doing
that’s not helping them, and what they can be doing better, and ways they can be more
successful in their classes. And John, do you wanna
add anything to that? – These run along side our
standard content discussion forums, and they’re very low stakes. In my class, it’s five
percent of their grade, and the regular one is 15%. And students have put at least
as much effort into these as they do in other aspects of the course, so its worked quite well in that sense. – And so, in conversations
John and I were having in the past, we were talking
about some issues that we find in common with our students. I’m in the community college
so I have a lot of first time college students or
first generation students, students who may not be
fully prepared for college, so I have a certain set of
struggles that I see often with the students. And John sees some different struggles, and we do have some that
overlap, so these are some guiding questions that helped us… These are the types that lead
toward the types of things that we’re trying to
address in these questions. And so, how often do your students reflect on their learning practices? And one of the follow-up
responses we’ve had from students after participating
in these discussions is, “I liked being able to look
back and reflect on myself with the help of the
discussion questions.” And how often do your
students procrastinate? And we we do, we discuss time
management, and motivation, and things like that in these. And now we have students
saying things like, “I always plan my homework and
reading out ahead of time.” How often do your students
believe that they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners? John, do you wanna? – Well this is an area
where students have grown up with this myth; they’ve been
taught this from the time they were in elementary school. Many of them had been tested regularly, and it often serves as
a barrier to learning because students believe
they can only learn in a certain way. And we wanted to see if
we could break that myth to get students open to
learning using all their sensors and not trying to limit themselves. – So we do address this straight on, and this will be shared
in the resources too. But now the students
have a new awareness of what learning styles really are. How often do your students
repeatedly re-read material rather than use retrieval practice? And now we have students
saying, “I find that the most effective way of studying
is by testing myself.” – And that’s not something
they’d be likely to say at the start of their class. That they’ve learned
about retrieval practice, and they see the benefits
from it, but it’s a bit of a reach because students
generally like to just re-read things over and over
again until it’s familiar, until they reach fluency illusion. And this is a nice way of
getting them to see that they can actually make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. – And how often do your students
participate in discussions or assignments without
completing assigned readings? And this is something I see a lot. And now after participating in
a series of these questions, students can make comments
like, “I believe one should understand the material before continuing with the coursework.” You know, which is critical
in world history that they have a framework to be build on. And how often do your
students feel as if they are alone in struggling
with difficult material? And this one is really important to us now. It was sort of a by
product of the whole cafe. We found this huge sense
of community building organically through these
Metacognitive Cafe discussions. The students really are
getting to know each other, they’re sharing what’s
going on in their lives, what their work schedule
is, how their home life’s affecting their studying,
and different things that they’ve tried. And its just been fantastic,
so now the students, they’re realizing that other
students are experiencing the same struggles, and they don’t feel so alone or isolated, and its really been great. – And it often bleeds over into
other aspects of the course. In the content discussions,
I see students referring to specific cases of
students and the struggles they face, and the challenges
they do in ways I’ve never seen before. When they’re trying to
apply the content to their regular lives, they actually
know each other much more deeply, and it’s been really
rewarding to see that. – And so, how often do your
students get discouraged when they make mistakes? And now, “By the end of the
semester, I think I will feel like I accomplished something.” So again, there’s more of
that community that sense that they’re working with other people and learning together. And that’s what this is. So Metacognitive Cafe in a
nutshell is students learn about learning together. – And we could’ve told
them these types of things, and we often have in the
past, but when they hear these strategies from the
peers, and they hear their peers talking about ways
they’ve implementing been, and its worked for them, it
has much more of an impact. – So this started for me a
few years ago when we had a critical thinking
initiative on our campus. And so we were using the Paul-Elder Model and the Elements of Thought, and I
integrated those elements of thoughts into the
regular online discussions, and it really had students
focused on bias, and point of view, and things like
that, and noticed right away that once they were directed
in a more thoughtful way their responses really became more robust. Even, I had gone through
and counted like the words per post, and they had
expanded something like 40%. So that was impressive right away. And then I kind of… We had another seminar with
John Draeger from Buffalo State, and he introduced
us to Kimberly Tanner’s discussion prompt. She’s a biologist who writes a
lot about this type of thing, and she has a table of
metacognitive discussion questions that she uses with her graduate students. And so I took Tanner’s table and kind of reworked it for the 100 level, where you know a lot of what I do is just get the students to read, and engage with the
content, and focus on it, and then start to think about it. And so at that point, I
split it out so that I still could have my course content
discussions that were higher stakes. And then, when (mumbles),
I do use points so they’re 25 points a question. And then these Metacognitive
Cafe ones are just five points. And, so that it just runs
along with the class, and there is a topic every
week, and just kind of tried to take it from there. And at this point John was doing ’em too. – Yeah, and what prompted me
to get interested in this, we’ve been doing a lot of
reading groups on our campus from Make it Stick, from Minds
Online, from Small Teaching. And one of the things
that really comes out in the research on cognitive
science is that the strategies that students believe are most effective tend to be least effective
in terms of encouraging long term knowledge. In terms of knowledge
retention, beyond exams the same day or the next day. And there’s a lot of reasons
for that, but basically what it comes down to is
students take strategies that work in the short run
and get them good grades on the types of assessments
they normally have, but then they forget most
of it really quickly, and I wanted to work on
ways of encouraging students to adopt techniques where
they could learn things in foundational courses
that would move on to upper level classes. So, they don’t have to learn
everything new every time they start a new course in the discipline. – And so then we tried to
sort of take the discussions to the next level by adding videos, and articles, and things like that into the discussion prompts. John, do you wanna talk more about them? – Yeah, one of the things
that came up is the first time through I would find
a video or a short article, and I’d use that as a discussion prompt. But what I was finding is on
some issues like retrieval practice, repeated testing, interleaving, and particularly the
discussion of learning styles. Some students were really resistant. They said, “But I’ve learned
this my whole career, throughout elementary school
and many of my college classes; my teachers had been telling
me just to re-read things over and over again until I learn it, and that I should find out
what my learning style is.” And they resisted things
because they were just hearing from one source. In one case, someone said,
“Well yeah, I know this cognitive scientist talked
about these two studies that were done, but I’m sure
there’s other studies because otherwise, I wouldn’t have heard so much about this.” And so I started putting in more readings, and normally they’re listed
as for additional readings on this, you may refer to these studies. And many of students
have started to do that, and it’s really rare for
students to go out and request more information, but
I found in this they have. – So then, after each semester or you know, each time we go through
these discussions we ask students for feedback. And it has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re getting responses
along the lines of, “I know I will continue
to use the techniques I developed in this class going forward,” which I love to see,
especially with these, brand new college students. And we talk a lot about
transfer and how they can carry these skills with
them into other courses. And “I cannot begin to say how this course has helped me,” which we
choose to interpret positively. And “I appreciate the
information about more effective learning methods, and
they are actually useful.” So while I do teach history, the learning methods, you know I always say if we
can teach them how to learn, and how to learn effectively,
and how to carry that over then they can learn anything. So it’s really rewarding when we spend the semester working with
the students like this, and then get this type of comment. And we truly hope that they
do carry these with them going forward. And so I think, John did you
already post the links or? – I did and Erin did as well. – Okay.
– Bit.ly in the longer link both go to the same address. And there’s a lot of resources there, all of our questions are there. Sometimes we’ve used the same ones. We haven’t identified which course; I think it’ll be pretty
obvious from the context. We to the extent possible,
we try to tie the material to material that they’re
discussion during that section. So I put the discussion
of addressing difficulties in dealing with difficult
material, you know section of the course where I know
students are going to struggle. And it’s really improved
students attitude, where they used to get
discouraged, they’re really encouraged to see that other
people are having the same challenge, and to share ideas on what’s worked effectively for them. It’s a nice just in
time type of an effect. – Yeah, and I try to do that
with their research papers. We, a lot of my students,
have not had English 101 yet, so they’re trying to
write a research paper. They don’t know what
a scholar resource is, and we try to break all
that down in other areas of the course, but then we get
into this Metacognitive Cafe discussion and really
talk to each other about what is a source, and where can
you find a scholar resource. And it’s really been helpful. So now if you follow one of those
links to that website, and scroll way down to the
bottom, there is a place where we would love to get your feedback. Any ideas that you might have about topics that may be missing from our list, or other Metacognitive Cafe type issues that we could address, or
other ways besides a discussion that we could put some
of this into a course. And you’re free to look at
all the discussion questions, even if you can suggest
another video, or article, or modification to a questions
that, anything like that would be greatly appreciated,
and we’d be happy to share that all out too. Oh, and there’s that
long URL, and I forgot. – Thank you Diana. – And so now for us, you
know we’re wrapping for me here at GCC this is final’s week, and I’m trynna get their grades done. And, you know, looking at
the courses that start in January, and we kinda just
say, “Well what’s next?” What do we do; do we keep? You know, I keep trying
to revise the questions, or you know, clarify or whatever, but… Excuse me, but what is the
next thing we should do? John has some ideas. – I’ve only used this
in my online classes, and they tend to be fairly small. They’re usually 40 to 50 students or so, but most of my intro
classes tend to have three to 420 students in them,
and it’s a little bit harder to use a discussion
for this so I’m gonna be working on developing
some materials that I can incorporate as activity. Some of which could be
self graded, or others that could be simply graded or assessed, to try to build this into
my large class instruction. And what I’d like to do
is do a randomized control experiment where roughly
half of the students will be exposed to this time
of material, and the other half will be exposed to
standard introduction to college study skills types of things, so we can see whether
reflection on Metacognition has a significant effect. And following it up by
looking at whether students are actually implementing
that by looking at the number of attempts
they make on quizzes that they can take over and
over again, and so forth. And also perhaps following
them up, if we get approval for this to see how they
do in later courses. – Yeah, I’d love to know
how they’d do later on. So I only teach online. I am the instructional designer
here so I work full time during the day so I teach typically two online
history courses a semester. But I’m constantly revising
my courses because I try to try out anything that
faculty might want to be trying in their courses first
so we can see how it works. So I never have the same
course that is offered again and again, so I really don’t have that type of research available to me so any other suggestions
that you guys might have, again, you could put into the
form that’s on that webpage, and it would be really interesting to see what other people think. So we went through that pretty quick, but if anybody.
– We did. So yeah, we condensed this down
from an hour of presentation and condensed it a little bit more. So yes, please put any
questions in the chat, or we could unmute people, or unmute yourself and just say them. – [Erin] Yes, everybody should
have the option to hover over the screen and the
little microphone will pop up, and you can click
that to unmute yourself and ask any questions. – [Robin] Hi, this is Robin. I have a question. – Robin. – Hi Robin.
– Hi; I did need to step away
for a couple minutes, so I may have missed. I see the website that you
have for the Metacognitive Cafe, but where in
particular are the discussion questions that you’re
using with the students or the prompts? – [Robin] Here, let me. – Actually, yeah maybe we
could just open up that link. – [Robin] And I can in just a second here. Let’s see, yeah, I didn’t
think of that, huh. – (laughing) You could click on the link. – [Robin] Let’s see; here. Okay, and then I’ll share again. – Reshare, mhm. (typing clicks) – [Robin] Okay, so is it sharing properly? – Yes.
– Mhm. – Okay.
– Yes. – So here’s the page, and let me scroll down. The scroll is acting up. This survey is the questions
that we asked at the beginning. And then right here, it says,
“Example, Metacognitive Cafe questions, and the sample questions are posted in Google Drive.” And this is a hyperlink right here. – [Robin] Oh okay, I
think I missed the link. – Yeah, I know it’s the
word cross, and that style that I chose the hyperlinks don’t look like hyperlinks. I don’t know. I tried it with different
color combinations. – [Robin] Are you able
to adjust the underline? You know formatting underline.
– I don’t know, it just doesn’t. But yeah, I’ll try to make something– – [Robin] Okay, thank you. That’s what I was looking for. – Yeah, so they’re all there. And I think we broke them
into little similar themes so they’d make more sense
like evidenced based learning methods. So they watch the learning
styles and self-reflection and retrieval practice. We also use a lot, if any of you attended CIT last year and were able to meet Barbara Oakley. I took her Learning How to Learn MOOC and incorporated a lot
of her stuff in here and that’s what those tips
for learning are from. That was a project from
that MOOC that I did, and her stuff is wonderful
for this type of thing. – [Robin] Thank you. – Yep. Any other questions? – [Robin] I guess, I’ll
take another question; this is Robin again. Any examples of students
responses that you can share? Do you have any? – Well, let’s see, when
we share the presentation there are a lot in the
notes, like the slide notes. John, did we have any on this page? – Well in this page, we
don’t have the actual sample responses. We did have some of them
or excerpts from them in an earlier presentation,
but we trimmed those down in the most recent one. – Yeah, I do have; I have a giant document
with all of them, that would probably be overkill but Robin
I can get more of those on, and I’ll put a similar;
I’ll do the same thing where we use a Google
doc and kinda compile ’em all in there. And I can send you a
note when that’s ready. – [Robin] That sounds good. Do you have to encourage the
students to reflect deeper? You know, they probably
don’t start out great, reflective learners. What’s the… Do you just prompt them,
or give them feedback, or? – I kind of start ’em out slowly. So this semester I had ancient world and ancient western tradition,
and I just start off with, you know, what did you already know about the agricultural revolution? And, you know, what did you
learn from this chapter? You know, and what questions
do you have, so that they… My focus first was to get
them to open the book, right, and at least read the section
about the agricultural revolution, and then
they have to think like, did I know this or not,
you know; what’s new here, and what else do I wanna know? And then, we just kinda
build on it every week, and get them thinking deeper and deeper. And some of the videos will
help them with that too. And John did you have a response to that? – In general, I’ve been
impressed by the amount of time and effort students put into this. And using a post first
discussion forum where they have to think about it,
and they can’t look at what other people are posted
first really helps with that. And generally, people put in
some very good reflections, and it got better and better
when they started to see what other people were doing
and responding to them. – [Robin] Great, you have
some video examples to help the students start to understand what reflective thinking is. Is there one that you
would recommend is the best kind of generic media example
for that kind of instruction? – I don’t know if I have
one that’s specifically on reflecting. John, do you have? – I don’t. Generally, we just start off
by defining what metacognition is, and then trying to work
to have them develop it. And one thing Judy suggested
and I’ve been doing too is just using a standard
prompt which includes the definition of metacognition
to help focus their work. – Right, and I ask ’em,
you know like, how would you explain metacognition
to others, things like that to you know reinforce what
it is and what it is they’re trying to accomplish. – [Robin] Thanks a lot. – [Josh] I have a question. This is Josh. Can you hear? – Yes.
– Yes. – [Josh] Ah, so do you ever
have students that will include poor strategies? Things like, you know,
I crammed last night and did really well on the
exam, and how do you deal with that? (Judy laughs) – John, I’ll let you
answer that ’cause I don’t really give exams. – Well yeah, I have had students do that. And they say, “It works for me.” But what’s been really nice is, you know, I can show them the research
on it, but what’s really nice is when other students respond. I do this, in one of
the classes I do this, it’s an intro economics
one, but sometimes there’s juniors and seniors in there. In particular, one case I had one student who is very persistent in doing this in several of the discussions. And then a junior said, “Well
I used to think that too, but then I went and took
upper level classes and I found I didn’t remember
this stuff, and I’ve been forced to develop better habits.” And when they hear that
from their peers it’s much more effective. And generally, peers will
respond when they see something like that. And even though that may
be a common practice, students often recognize
that it’s something they do because it’s convenient,
it’s easy, they procrastinate it, and they need to do it. They generally recognize
it’s not a good thing to do, and when they hear other
people talking about it. And other students will
often talk about specific strategies that they’ve
developed over time that’s helped them become better learners. And that, I think or it
appears to be fairly effective. – [Josh] Thanks. – Anybody else? You know, I’ll stop the sharing. And were there any questions in the chat? – [Erin] I have not seen
any questions in the chat. I did put a link, Judy, to
the Learning How to Learn MOOC because it starts today actually. I knew Cohurt does so that was really kinda nice timing. So if anybody’s interested
in checking that out, they can do that. – And I believe she runs
it just about every month, so if you missed this one, it’s
coming up pretty regularly, and it’s a really good MOOC. I encourage my students to take it. – [Erin] That’s a great idea
actually for students, yeah. Okay, well not seeing any other questions. I’ll go ahead and come
up on our closing here. And I think there may’ve
been a question that just popped up, I’m not sure. Okay, well thank you
again to John and to Judy for joining us and
sharing your strategies. We appreciate your
leadership and willingness to represent our Open SUNY community. We do realize that there
also maybe others in the community or on the call
that have an interest in sharing a topic. If that is you, we would
encourage you to submit a proposal for a fellow chat. We are scheduling those for
the spring semester coming up. Today’s session was recorded,
and we will make that available on the page
where you registered. I’ll post all this in the
chat for you momentarily so that you have that information. And you can also review any
of our past fellow chats on our Open SUNY website. So again, I just thank
you for joining us and for all of you for your
time and your attention. We hope to see you at another
virtual event very soon. – Thank you for having us Erin. – [Erin] Absolutely, thank you.

Danny Hutson

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