Metacognition is “knowledge of one’s knowledge, processes, and cognitive and affective states; and the ability to consciously and deliberately monitor and regulate one’s knowledge, processes, and cognitive and affective states” (Hacker, 1998, p. 3). Metacognition is key to developing life-long learning skills necessary for ABET and for an effective work career, yet it is rarely integrated into engineering education. In our IUSE NSF project, we are studying the development of metacognitive skills of students and graduates of the Iron Range Engineering program (IRE). IRE is an innovative, problem-based-learning (PBL) engineering program in Virginia, Minnesota, where students explicitly engage in activities to become aware of and develop metacognitive skills and apply them in the context of real-world problem solving.
Our project work includes (1) identifying and understanding the metacognitive skills students develop and use during their preparation as engineers in a PBL program and (2) examining whether the preparation of students in the PBL program (particularly in the area of metacognition) gives them a “leg up” in their transition to the engineering workforce. Data sources for this project include student interview data supplemented with interviews of recent IRE graduates employed as engineers and of employers of the IRE graduates to better understand the effect of this unique undergraduate program on student preparedness for the engineering workforce. We are also collecting data from think-aloud protocols during student solving of an open-ended design problem.
We are currently in our last year of data collection. Our poster will share more details on our methodology and results. Specifically, we anticipate including the following:
• Aggregate data analysis of first year IRE students’ metacognitive indicators from interviews and think-aloud data.
• Aggregate data analysis of IRE alumni (who have been working as engineers five years or less) on their use of metacognition and metacognitive strategies in the workplace
• Summary results of first and second data collections of entering and graduating students with comparative data analysis from interviews and think alouds.
Our intention in this project is to demonstrate how explicit instruction and practice applying metacognitive skills may positively impact the transition of graduating engineers to the workplace.
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