Students' Use of Metacognitive Skills While Problem Solving in High School Chemistry

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Delvecchio, Francine Lisa
Problem Solving , Science Education
The purpose of this study was to investigate how purposeful metacognitive instruction affected students’ use of metacognitive skills and their abilities to solve complex chemistry problems. The pilot (n = 18 to 26) and study (n = 21) groups were enrolled in separate Ontario Grade 11 university preparation chemistry classes. A quasi-experimental intervention was implemented, using the pilot study as a control. A Metacognitive Framework that outlined metacognitive skills specific to problem solving in chemistry formed the foundation for the intervention. Pre- and post-test self report questionnaires measuring students’ use of metacognitive skills (MCAI) and the problem solving tasks (i.e., PSTs) were used to measure the impact of the intervention. Data about students’ metacognitive and problem solving processes were also collected for the study group from: (a) think aloud pair problem solving (TAPPS) protocols, (b) an exit interview with the classroom teacher, (c) the students’ lab reports for two design labs, and (d) a survey of students’ use of the Metacognitive Framework. One way repeated measures ANOVA indicated that the pre- and post-test MCAI scores were not significantly different within and between the pilot and study groups. A comparison of the higher and lower achievement subgroups within the study group revealed that over time, the mean scores on the MCAI increased for the higher achievement group and decreased for the lower achievement group. One-way repeated measures ANOVA revealed that the post-test PST scores were significantly higher than the pre-test scores, and the groups differed significantly from each other with the study group scoring higher on both scores. While the statistical analyses revealed few differences, the teacher’s exit interview, TAPPS protocols, pre- and post-test lab reports, and student survey of the Metacognitive Framework indicated that the intervention supported students’ abilities to solve complex chemistry problems and use metacognitive skills associated with planning, monitoring, and evaluation.
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