Exploring students’ socio-metacognitive experiences

Thanh Lê
Assistant professor
Western Washington University

Need: Research-based instructional materials often use an elicit – confront – resolve strategy to guide students toward formal science concepts (e.g., Tutorials in Introductory Physics, McDermott and Schaffer, 2001). Particularly in physics, students have everyday ideas that are sometimes inconsistent with formal physics concepts. Eliciting these inconsistencies often causes students to feel confusion. Students often resolve their confusion through socio-metacognition (Borge and White, 2016), which involves planning, monitoring, and regulating each other’s ideas and optimizing their collaboration. While confusion can lead to deeper learning and understanding, confusion can also lead to frustration and disengagement. Research and research-based curriculum focus on student conceptual understanding with less emphasis on attending to students’ emotions. In this poster, we present students’ emotional responses as a key component of their learning experiences. Guiding Question: To better understand how students work together to resolve confusion in collaborative activities, we investigated the relationships between emotions and student engagement in explicitly confusing collaborative tasks. Outcomes: The research answers this inquiry by building mixed-methods, case-studies of individual students and their groups from four data streams: student’s self-reported emotional experiences in-the-midst of the activity, student’s written reflections, classroom video, and interviews with the students. The study is an ongoing project at two institutions on the West Coast in a course for future K-8 teachers, which uses the same research-based curriculum and includes topics such as energy-based and force-based models for interactions. We will overview the collective students’ experiences of the course. Then, we will explore the lesson with the most mathematics content, where students had the highest confusion and stress by walking through a student’s experience during the lesson and their self-advocacy during and after the lesson. Broader ImpactsSocio-metacognition connects the journeys the individual group members go through. Understanding how students navigate curricular materials, including the content, emotions, and prior experiences they elicit, can improve the efficacy and equity of collaborative, student-centered teaching practices across STEM disciplines. Conducting the study at two undergraduate institutions informs the experiences of students traditionally overlooked and underrepresented in physics education research. Pre-service K-8 teachers (white-female dominated) provide an opportunity to analyze engagement with physics while not representing the predominant demographics of physics (white-male dominated).


Jayson Nissen, Nissen Education Research and Design, Slidell, LA