Date of Award

8-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Chemistry

Advisor

Cooper, Melanie M

Committee Member

Bhattacharyya , Gautam

Committee Member

Appling , Jeffrey R

Abstract

Problem-solving has been described by many as the most important goal of chemistry teaching and learning. Solving real problems requires not only cognitive abilities but also a regulation of those abilities-metacognition. In fact, metacognition is recognized as having considerable impact on problem-solving success and learning. Recent research focused on the development of interventions designed to enhance the use of metacognition. The main objective of this study was to determine 'how' and 'why' two interventions were effective in increasing students' metacognitive use, and problem-solving abilities. Therefore, this study represents the qualitative portion of a sequential explanatory mixed-methods study; Qualitative evidence was collected in order to contribute to an explanation of prior quantitative findings. The two interventions at the heart of the study were a cooperative problem-based laboratory project, and a metacognitive collaborative problem-solving exercise. Nine general chemistry students were interviewed, and a phenomenological analysis was performed with the data. The outcome space of the phenomenological analysis revealed underlying similarities between each experience. Both experiences contained affective and skillfulness components. In the affective dimension students underwent moments of confusion and frustration that had to be overcome in order to be successful. The skillfulness dimension, in both experiences, involved the 'skills' that students implemented while 'figuring out' and solving problems. The skills were explicitly metacognitive. Interpretation of the outcome space led to the conclusion that meaningful purposeful social interaction and reflective prompting acted as promoters for enhanced metacognition use and problem-solving abilities. The data collected in this study supported and contributed to an explanation of prior findings. Also, due to the nature of the phenomenological analysis, an accurate representation of the cooperative problem-based laboratory experience was gained. The laboratory experience provides a rich environment for the development of metacognitive strategies, and problem solving skills.

Included in

Chemistry Commons

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