Date of Award

5-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

Bailey, Beatrice N

Committee Member

Grimes , Larry W

Committee Member

Green , Robert P

Abstract

The research literature has been dominated with information about teacher practices that promise to help chemistry students improve their problem-solving abilities and maneuver the conceptual complexities inherent in learning chemistry. Drawing on this research, this study proposes that teaching for metacognition may equip students to learn science authentically and more responsibly. Research related to teaching for metacognition has provided some evidence that strategic questioning, specific feedback, and engaging activities help students become more metacognitive. Furthermore, research has shown that enhanced student metacognition improves problem-solving skills, enhances conceptual change, and may even compensate for lower cognitive abilities.
This study was inspired by the Cooper Research Group at Clemson University. The research group has explored students' metacognition, including various teaching interventions designed to enhance students' problem-solving abilities and metacognition. This mixed-method study explores what, if any, high school chemistry teachers' practices might help explain students' metacognition. Quantitative measures characterized students' metacognitive skillfulness while qualitative case studies examined four high school chemistry teachers' practices. This study found four common teacher practices that may help explain why students in all four classrooms progressed to only an intermediate level of metacognitive skillfulness. These teacher practices include (a) a routine use of teacher-question student-answer, well-practiced mathematics aspect of chemistry; (b) an abundant use of step-wise, prescriptive, rote verification experiments; (c) an absence of proactive, probing questions during all phases of instruction; and (d) an absence of purposeful and critical instructional design.
The results of this study suggest that teacher practices that do not encourage students to reflect deeply on their knowledge may instill a passive and task-accomplishment approach to learning. This study provides additional insight into promising teacher practices that may enhance students' development of metacognition and, in turn, help students become more conscientious learners. Insights may be used to review current undergraduate chemistry education preparation.

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