Metacognition: Improving Student Awareness of Their Own Learning with Video and Low-Stakes Testing
Student “View” of Intro to Macroeconomics using Echo360
Metacognition is defined as the “awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes.” For students, it ultimately means having the ability to know what they know and do not know, how they think, and what helps them learn.
In his micro and macroeconomics classes at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Dr. Andrew Perumal, Associate Professor of Economics, uses Echo360 video learning and engagement features to drive student metacognition and increase awareness into their own learning. The results are that his students can more easily apply the knowledge they have gained and have expressed higher rates of satisfaction with their course work.
Video Technology and Active Learning Improves Engagement in Large Enrollment Courses
Large lecture classes are still common in colleges and universities, and when UMass Boston made the move to such classes, there was a natural concern about the impact that decision would have on pedagogy and learning. Larger classes meant that it would be more difficult to get to know individual students and Dr. Perumal was concerned that it would be easier for them to simply sit in the back of the class and not engage with the material being presented.
According to Dr. Perumal, the University had been using a variety of clicker systems for student response, but he felt they were limited in the types of questions he wanted to ask in class.
“I investigated other systems and even looked at Twitter, because it was free. But, when I found Echo360, I felt it provided the full range of questions I wanted to ask. Echo360 gave me the ability to ask open-ended questions and even image-based questions. That flexibility means that students are required to think beyond a simple yes or no, or multiple-choice question,” says Perumal.
Echo360 Instructor interface makes it easy to add a full-range of in-class activities and questions
Engaging Students to Help Them Understand What They “Don’t Know”
Dr. Perumal’s students must do more than just show up for his classes; they must actively participate. To help encourage engagement, Dr. Perumal awards participation points. Students are required to answer questions he poses throughout his lecture presentations using Echo360. This participation counts for 10 percent of a student’s final grade.
“One of the challenges with introductory courses such as macro or microeconomics is that if a student just sits passively in class without applying the material being presented, they often feel a false sense of confidence. They listen to the lecture and feel that they comprehend the material. Too often, they get an unwelcome surprise when they take their first exam or quiz.”
To help combat this, Dr. Perumal uses in-class activities such as graphic response and open-ended questions to conduct what he considers to be “low-stakes” testing. Dr. Perumal makes it clear that participation is more than just getting the answer correct. The questions serve as a way for him and his students to gain insight into what and how they are learning.
“This is where the metacognitive aspects come into play,” says Perumal. “I will use the in-class activities to test students with the progression of the material. But, I also use these questions to evaluate whether they understand and can apply the concepts presented. I often ask them to justify their answer. And this is where the lightbulb goes off in the mind of the student. They begin to think about all the reasons behind why they’ve selected an answer. If they get the answer correct, that’s fine. But, if they answer the question incorrectly, both the student and I can begin to see the error in their reasoning. This helps me to come back in a subsequent class and reinforce concepts to clear up student misunderstanding and students can learn from the experience and understand what they know and don’t know.”
An example of how Dr. Perumal asks students to justify their answer. This helps him gauge student comprehension and gain insights into student thinking
Technology Makes it Easy for Students to Ask Questions
According to Dr. Perumal, Echo360 makes it easy for students to ask questions. If they miss something during a lecture or don’t understand a concept being presented, they can immediately ask a question using Echo360. A teaching assistant (TA) is responsible for immediately answering them. When students ask questions after class while reviewing the recorded lecture presentations, Dr. Perumal answers those questions himself.
“One of our concerns when we shifted to larger enrollment classes was that students would be afraid to raise their hand to ask questions. They might be shy, or they may be afraid of looking foolish when asking a question. But, the anonymous Q&A feature of Echo360 addresses all of that. Overall, it helps students feel more comfortable in a larger classroom setting. They also aren’t intimidated by the technology. They expect this level of interaction in the classroom and they also expect to have access to video lectures after class.”
Echo360 Q&A Section: TA answers questions during class
Analytics Inform Instruction and Reveal Student Engagement Patterns
Dr. Perumal uses Echo360 analytics to track student engagement and award participation points. He can identify the number of questions students answer and the percentage of questions answered correctly. Analytics also reveal the number of times lecture videos are viewed and if there are spikes in video views or attendance. This helps reveal how students are engaging with the course material.
“The analytics give me an understanding of whether or not students understand the concepts being presented and how well the class is performing. I can make informed decisions and clarify specific points of instruction. It helps me to reinforce the idea that participation isn’t only about getting the answer right. Being actively engaged helps students understand the material as a check for themselves. Once they understand this, they worry less about the impact an incorrect answer has on their grade.”
Analytics help instructors track student engagement
“One-Minute” Papers Make it Easy to Get Started with Echo360
At a recent UMass Boston teaching conference, Dr. Perumal explained how his use of Echo360 has changed dramatically.
“The way in which I use the analytics to interpret what is going on with my students and the complexity of the questions I ask has evolved over many years of using Echo360. In the very beginning, I may have included only one or two questions per class. Now, I include as many as 7 to 9 questions. Since I have gone through multiple iterations of teaching with Echo360, I have learned that there are more things that I can test to improve the likelihood that the students are learning the material. My advice to other instructors is the same: get started by asking just one question in your class.”
Dr. Perumal also uses Echo360 to get instant feedback from students about what they have or haven’t learned. He used to collect this information manually, on note cards. Today, he collects this information daily via Echo360.
“I can now share this information with students. They can see that they were not the only student in class who was having difficulty mastering specific concepts. So, this is one of my main recommendations to my fellow instructors: use the system to get daily feedback – what do they understand, what don’t they understand. This feature is powerful as it informs my instruction and I can modify my presentations in subsequent classes.”
“One-Minute Papers” help solicit daily feedback from students
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