My research program has focused on understanding three inter-related components of self-regulated learning: (1) monitoring of learning, (2) control of study time, and (3) the application of strategies during learning. These three components of learning fall under the rubric of metacognition, which concerns people’s cognition (or beliefs) about their cognitions. By studying metacognition in students across the lifespan, a major goal of all facets of my research involves developing techniques to improve student learning and achievement across multiple domains.
Both accurate monitoring of learning and adaptive control of learning are critical for efficient learning. For instance, consider two students who are studying for an upcoming exam of Foreign-language vocabulary. One student cannot discriminate between items he has learned and those he has not learned—i.e., the accuracy of his monitoring is poor. Another student is very good at discriminating between items she has learned and those she has not—the accuracy of her monitoring is excellent. The latter student can be much more efficient than the former, because she will be able to focus restudy on just the vocabulary she does not already know. However, if that same individual used her accurate monitoring to control learning by restudying only the most well-learned items, she would also be inefficient. In this case, she would not be adaptively controlling her learning. The idea here is simply that accurate monitoring and adaptive use of that monitoring to guide—or to control—the allocation of study time is critical for efficient learning. Control also involves the strategies people use to learn and comprehend new materials, which can have a major influence on learning outcomes. Some simple strategies involve self testing and rereading—both of which can enhance student learning.
Why is there often a disconnect between what students should be doing to enhance their learning and what they actually do?
My research aims to address this question by understanding how students apply certain strategies when regulating their learning, with the ultimate goal of improving their metacognitive awareness and hence their self-regulation. One of my ongoing projects with Jess Janes focuses on how students regulate their use of self-testing across multiple sessions when preparing for a high-stakes exam. We are also developing interventions to improve understanding of core concepts in upper-level biology courses for undergraduates.
How well do students regulate their learning of categories?
In this line of research with Kayla Morehead, we have students study exemplars from various categories and judge how well they have learned those categories. We then investigate how they use these judgments to make restudy decisions.
What factors influence students' judgments about exam performance?
Along with Michelle Rivers, Dr. Robin Joynes, and Dr. Chris Was, we are conducting large-scale classroom studies aimed an understanding how students monitor their performance on high-stakes exams. Understanding the bases for students’ judgments can provide valuable insight about how to improve students’ judgment accuracy, ultimately creating more effective learners.
When and why does making a judgment about memory influence memory performance?
Judgments of learning are commonly used in metamemory research to investigate how well a student believes they have learned information. Research from our lab has shown that under certain conditions, these judgments may change the ongoing learning process. Along with Jess Janes, Michelle Rivers, and collaborators at Texas Christian University, we are conducting studies aimed at revealing the mechanisms by which students’ judgments about learning (negative or positively) influence memory.