Initial Publication Date: July 12, 2018

Grand Challenge 4:

Educators: How do we support the geoscience community in learning and implementing classroom strategies that are known to be effective in supporting students affect, metacognition and self-regulation of learning?


It should not be assumed that students arrive in geoscience courses with the ability to successfully self-regulate their learning or to use metacognitive strategies. Faculty guidance is vital for coaching students to be self-regulated learners as these skills are not guaranteed (e.g., Pressley & Ghatala, 1990) and in most cases must be explicitly taught to students for greatest effectiveness (Schraw & Gutierrez, 2015). In order for Grand Challenges 1 and 2 in this research theme to be implemented broadly and successfully, instructors must be knowledgeable and comfortable using classroom strategies related to affect, metacognition, and self-regulation of learning. With these skills at their fingertips, members of the geoscience community will be a valuable resource for students who are not familiar with (or even aware of) strategies to take control of their own learning.

Instructors' self-efficacy for teaching both the science content and the learning strategies has been isolated as an important factor in the instructor's decision to provide students opportunities for self-regulation and metacognitive support (Schraw, Crippen, & Hartley, 2006). As a result, dissemination of effective, yet accessible, approaches to teaching learning strategies as related to the geosciences should be addressed. These dissemination strategies may include faculty professional development, such as face-to-face workshops and webinars, and published research studies that focus on adoption strategies in various learning environments. Other options include content-based activities that are specifically designed to include built-in pedagogical support of students' self-regulation and metacognition (e.g., reflection exercises, self-regulatory prompts).

Barriers to helping instructors learn about these strategies can be psychological (e.g., instructors' resistance to change/lack of interest), institutional (e.g., lack of support to make changes by administrators), and logistical (e.g., no time/funds to attend professional development workshops). Regardless of these potential barriers, however, effective professional development (e.g., On the Cutting Edge) has been shown to impact the diversity of teaching practices educators employ, with even one-time participation in a workshop with peers leading to changes in teaching practice (Manduca et al., 2017) or teaching beliefs (Chapman, 2017). Though these results were largely in relation to the adoption of active learning strategies and/or the development of reformed teaching beliefs, one may assume that similar change may be elicited via professional development more targeted towards the adoption of practices that specifically support the self-regulatory, metacognitive, and affective aspects of students' learning in the geosciences. Furthermore, this assumption of transferability can be an additional direction of future research.

Recommended Research Strategies

Since the instructor needs to guide the learner in developing self-regulatory and metacognitive skills, it is important that we better understand the geoscience practitioner and administrator community and how to support the implementation of these skills by instructors in their classrooms. To accomplish this task, three strategies have been outlined below:

  1. Determine the relationship between attitudes about and adoption of approaches that support student development of self-regulation, metacognition and affect across different members of the geoscience community (practitioners and administrators) from those that represent both formal and informal learning environments.
  2. Take inventory of faculty professional development programs inside and out of the geosciences that have been successful in employing self-regulation, metacognition, and affect in their pedagogical contexts and leverage successful approaches and dissemination methods in order to best support geoscience educators in adopting these approaches.
  3. Design, implement, and evaluate professional development programs which aim to develop teaching and learning strategies that incorporate supporting student self-regulation, metacognition, and affect for all geoscience educator ranks/positions (e.g., Teaching Assistants, Post-Doctoral Scholars, Instructors, Faculty, Administrators, etc.) and learning settings (e.g., community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Universities, Primarily White Institutions, Four-Year Intuitions, Research Universities, etc.).

« Previous Page