NEW WAYS OF TEACHING METACOGNITIVE SKILLS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: CONVERSTAND, A SOFTWARE FOR A BETTER KNOWLEDGE ACQUISITION
Jaume I University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Are all students performing metacognition when learning? How can teachers be sure of it?
It is believed that successful knowledge acquisition requires the use of metacognitive skills. This is the raison d’être for the ConverStand software, designed to bring unconscious metacognition to a conscious process. This explicit utilization of metacognitive strategies will make students able to develop “more sophisticated and academically oriented” skills. (Veenman et al, 2006, p. 8).
Metacognition was first explained in the mid-1970s as the knowledge about and regulation of one’s cognitive activities in learning processes, as thinking about one’s thinking and regulation of that thinking (Flavell, 1979; Brown, 1978). Nowadays, its importance has been stressed by Öz (2014, chap.7, p. 139): “metacognition is an increasingly important cognitive factor in applied linguistics as well as educational, cognitive, and developmental psychology”.
It is in this background that the ConverStand software is born as an idea. Its name is a mixture of two words: conversation and understand. This software enhances the development and settlement of students’ metacognitive strategies. It puts together verbalized metacognitive knowledge and self-instructions, this is, cognitive activities which imply metacognition (see Veenman et al., 2006).
The software works as a written conversation between student and a wise character (an avatar). It uses a very familiar interface for students (like a WhatsappTM conversation). This conversation takes place twice. First, before the start of a new lesson in order to assess the students’ previous knowledge and objectives to acquire, and second, after the end of that lesson in order to asses the real acquired knowledge. This process must occur outside the classroom.
We know from the literature that there are many methods to assess metacognitition (questionnaires, interviews, thinking-aloud protocols, stimulated recall, and on-line computer-logfile registration); the ConverStand software mixes all these methods in a funny and familiar way for students.
The backend of the software works mainly with keywords labelled according to the different cognitive domains (this is, subjects, and within the subjects, lessons). These keywords will be extracted from the analysis of different corpora, and they allow the wise character guide the conversation. According to the student's responses, the software detects certain keywords and continues the conversation in one way or another.
At the end of each conversation (this is, at the end of each lesson), students will be able to keep the conversation in a pdf format and send it to the teacher. Thus, teachers will be able to assess the student’s knowledge about the lesson, and evaluate their teaching practice as well (for instance, if a lot of students have problems in the same questions, it may be because something wasn’t taught clearly enough).
All in all, the ConverStand software will help us not only to examine whether the development of metacognitive skills helps students improve or not in formal educational settings, but also to analyze whether metacognitive skills extend student’s intelligence or not.
Keywords: Metacognition, metacognitive strategies, higher education, ICT, technology, knowledge acquisition, converstand.