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Metacognition Training Boosts Test Scores

When taking general Chemistry exams sometimes students overestimate their abilities and feel that they have such a good grip of the material that they feel they will score in the 80’s or may even pull off a score in the 90’s if the exam has questions that you have studied for.  A few weeks later you get your exam back and you have received a score of 60 percent.  You are puzzled and can’t believe your score and think “What went wrong?!”

In general, students tend to overestimate their own abilities.  Research shown at the University of Utah that students that can overcome the overconfidence of knowing material tend to do better on exams. The study was done so students could better understand their abilities in accumulating information presented in chemistry.  By thinking about their own thinking (most often referred to as metacognition) students boosted their grades by a significant amount.  When tested, these students raised their final grade by 10 percent on average.  The study done by University of Utah tracked the progress of students with and without their ability to succeed.

The study covered students in the first semester of general chemistry.  The study was expanded into the second semester.  The students had no metacognition training.  The students who were successful asked themselves questions like “What does this question ask me to do?” or “How does this relate to what we are doing in class?””why are we being given this question?” as some examples.  This is the metacognitive training part.  If these students asked these questions regularly their grades improved exponentially.

The researchers believed that these questions could not only be limited to chemistry but also may be able to be applied across disciplines.  This is a principle that could be universally applied to learning.  This concept has been applied to learning for centuries.

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