Role of Metacognition

A recorded live webinar on the role of metacognition in higher education.

The Role of Metacognition in Student Learning in Higher Education

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Improving performance assessment and remediation strategies are ongoing challenges in almost all disciplines of academic education. While incorrect-to-correct remediation performances are conventionally interpreted as positive remediation, certainty-based assessments highlight evidence-based occasions when this scenario unconventionally signifies negative remediation; for example, when an educated guess (indicating partial knowledge) resulting in an incorrect response is negatively remediated to a correct response achieved through wild guesswork (from absent knowledge). Certainty-based remediation strategies also underline situations where correct-to-incorrect remediations are positive or non-directional, correct-to-correct remediations are positive or negative, and incorrect-to-incorrect remediations are positive or negative. If undetected and unaddressed, these performances can lead to false confidence and consequential decision-making. Assessing student confidence as an additional variable provides benefits for understanding these performance behaviors and advising students.

This presentation will demonstrate these ideas with an overview of foundational metacognitive principles (specifically involving confidence and certainty, and their critical nuances) and empirical examples from years of data collection with different interventions. The presentation will especially emphasize how frequent unconventional performances should be expected to occur in assessment outcomes measured only by the correctness of student responses.

You will learn best practices for identifying metacognitive misalignment in student performances and assessment item/question analyses (data driven and non-data driven) and applying practical interventions to improve teaching, learning, and assessment. The presentation will conclude by addressing limitations/challenges for implementing metacognition-based assessment methods and outlining future directions of this research.  


Ethan Snow, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor // Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Dr. Ethan Snow is an education researcher who is grounded in STEM disciplines. After studying at South Dakota State University (B.S. 2014; biology, biotechnology, microbiology, and chemistry) and finding his call to teach and pursue education research, he applied his collective experiences at the University of North Dakota (Ph.D. 2019; biomedical science) by studying a novel method for measuring knowledge, guiding remediation, and informing teaching and learning practices that operates on evaluating the alignment of students’ metacognition to their examination performances. Dr. Snow was recruited by the University of Nebraska Medical Center as a tenure-leading assistant professor (teaching faculty) in 2019 to teach anatomy and continue his education research. His research continues to gain recognition and now involves multiple graduate students and institutional collaborations.  

Suggested Readings

Snow has offered this selected reading that is useful to prepare participants. 

  1. Preheim, M., Dorfmeister, J. & Snow, E. Assessing Confidence and Certainty of Students in an Undergraduate Linear Algebra Course. Journal for STEM Education Research (2023).

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