How Spelman College Will Use Metacognitive Awareness to Improve Academic Performance

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Metacognitive awareness ("thinking about thinking") is a crucial skill to help students persist and succeed, and here's how Spelman College hopes to help them master that skill.


The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 18 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

This was the second year of the First in the World grants. You can read our interviews with the 24 institutions that received 2014 grants here.

by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

Metacognition, or "thinking about thinking," is a crucial skill to help students persist and succeed, but a Spelman College psychology professor noticed that her junior and senior students hadn't yet mastered that skill. In response, assistant professor of psychology Jimmeka Guillory started using metacognitive instruction in her class and immediately noticed a difference. Students demonstrated improvement in their awareness and academic performance, and importantly, more students started coming to seek help during her office hours.

Now Guillory and Francesina Jackson, director of college's Center for Academic Planning and Success, plan to expand their approach with a $2.7 million First in the World grant to track the impact of metacognitive instruction on the academic performance of 2,200 first-year students. The project may hold crucial lessons for other institutions. We talked recently with Guillory and Jackson to learn more about the metacognition techniques they will use and how the project will unfold.

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