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Students should be asked to reflect on how they this science is "done" (what is the process of science?) before they come to class (or at the beginning of class time). Students pick up ~5 cards that contain statements regarding the nature of science (based on Cobern & Loving, 1998), for example, "Writing is the primary vehicle by which scientists communicate with one another around the world." Some statements may include inaccurate views, such as "If a scientist develops a theory but shares it with no one, she has still contributed to the work of science." Students sort through these cards as individuals and then as a group and eventually construct a group paragraph (with a guiding rubric) that they then present to the class. After we discuss commonalities and differences, students are then assigned a reading homework assignment about the history of geology (Bryson, 2003) with guided questions. The next class starts with a discussion about these questions--they are designed to focus students on some of the components that may be missing from their paragraphs. After the reading, vocabulary of scientific theory and hypothesis are discussed. In the end, students are then asked to re-reflect on their initial ideas and what changed and what caused their ideas to change. These ideas are then re-visited throughout the semester in the context of specific topics. Metacognitive components of the activity Students are asked to reflect on what they know before they begin the activity (activating their prior knowledge). They then re-visit their ideas at the end of the activity to determine how their ideas have changed or not changed as a result of the conversation from the class activity and additional reading. Metacognitive goals for this activity: There are three primary goals for including metacognition in this activity: 1) Students will gain a greater understanding of the content by taking the time to reflect on their learning before and after the activity. 2) Students will start to appreciate the power of self-reflection in the learning process 3) The instructor will gain valuable feedback from the students in what they learned and areas that still need to be emphasized. Assessing students' metacognition Approximately 90% of the participants in past semesters have indicated that their understanding has changed and increased. In assessing their pre vs. post written prompts, participating in this activity increases their understanding of the content. Whether they now appreciate the importance of self-reflection is less known. However, at the end of the semester students are asked to rank self-reflection as important or non-important in their learning process, and it is consistently rated as helpful or extremely helpful.
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