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Promoting the Development of Metacognition and Combating Robust Misconceptions In a Gateway STEM Course Using an Intelligent, Web-based Homework System: 1504880

Principal Investigator: James Becker
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): Rockford Ross, Katharine Polasek
Organization: Montana State University

To meet the current and projected needs of industry for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professionals, significant efforts to recruit students into STEM fields continue across the nation. Once recruited into a STEM field, retention is of paramount importance. Examinations of the retention issue have identified key gateway courses as areas in which many students are lost from STEM fields. Failure and withdrawal rates in such courses often exceed 30% and issues related to inadequate metacognitive skill and self-regulated learning among struggling students appear to be key contributors to attrition. This project is exploring cost-effective and transferable means to foster metacognitive skill development among STEM majors in a key gateway engineering course so students become self-regulated learners and progress successfully not only through the gateway course, but through the entire curriculum.

Toward this end, an “intelligent” web-based platform is being developed and deployed in an electric circuit analysis course at two institutions. The system is being designed to identify knowledge deficits of a student and to deliver an individualized experience for each user according to their current level of mastery. The web-based approach ensures the interventions will be scalable and transferable and their grounding in established theories from cognitive science suggests they will be effective and broadly applicable. Unique within the system are features which foster self-reflection on the part of the user with the promise of enhancing metacognitive skill and the correction of common misconceptions. Rigorous assessment and evaluation measures are in place to quantify the project’s effectiveness.

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