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The intervention, Metacogntive Prompting Intervention - Science (MPI-S), consists of checklists and questions organized into four developmental phases strategically placed into lesson plans. Each set of metacognitive prompts represent ideas from one of the seven aspects of the nature of science. Students 1) receive an exemplary model of the scientific thinking task needed in the inquiry, 2) attempt a similar scientific thinking task with support in the form of a checklist, 3) attempt a more difficult scientific thinking task with faded support and report their reasoning behind their decisions, and 4) independently accomplish the science thinking task while reflecting on its alignment with established ways of knowing in science. Metacognitive components of the activity The prompts are based on Zimmerman's cyclical theory of self-regulation: forethought, performance, and self reflection. Students begin a science task with forethought (prior knowledge from experiences), then perform the science task with a combination of science process skills and content knowledge, then self-reflect on the alignment of the outcome to an "expert" outcome. One pathway through the cycle develops more knowledge that is forethought in the next cycle of self-regulation. The prompts encourage students to reflect on their observations and conclusions in an inquiry activity and compare their results to the expectations of the scientific community. Metacognitive goals for this activity: Students are expected to compare their processes and outcomes during an inquiry activity to the ways of knowing in science. Are students aligned with the ways knowledge is constructed and validated in the scientific enterprise? Assessing students' metacognition Over the past three years, I have tested the prompts with an experimental design in 8th grade classes. Experimental groups significantly outperform comparison groups in content knowledge and in nature of science knowledge regardless of the years of experience of the teacher. Additionally, the prompts have shown promise in qualitative studies in encouraging pre-service teachers to design lesson plans with explicit nature of science teachable moments woven through the entire school year.
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