Wheelock College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2877-2880
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper describes the design and impact of an introductory, inquiry-based, earth science-themed course for undergraduate students in which metacognitive tools of creative individuals, and of experts, are taught explicitly. This approach is employed to create a more compelling picture of the process of science with the characteristic tools reinforced throughout the course in order to achieve specific goals. These include:

- reducing anxieties and negative attitudes about science
- improving student understanding of the nature and process of science
- facilitating student understanding of connections between science and other forms of inquiry
- developing metacognitive awareness and functioning among students
- enhancing assimilation of science content knowledge

As many of the students aspire to careers in elementary and early childhood education and related human service fields, these are essential goals. In addition, student exposure to science at the undergraduate level is limited to one or two courses necessitating a thoughtful prioritization of course goals.

Students are prompted to read, discuss and debate ‘thinking’ tools such as abstraction, observation, analogy, and deliberate practice as manifest in science and other fields of inquiry. As part of the assessment process, they are asked to employ these tools to demonstrate their understanding of science concepts. Students also conduct a semester-long study of a local river system in which they are asked to reflect on the use and impact of the metacognitive tools as part of the science process.

In this paper, in addition to design characteristics, we present pre- and post survey results of students’ attitudes toward science over several semesters. The results suggest a positive change in students’ science outlook.
Pre-service teachers, metacognition, creativity, expertise, nature of science.