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THE INFLUENCE OF METACOGNITION ON THE TEACHING OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY CONCEPTS AT SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL LEVELS
Background of the study
An important goal of this study was to analyse common factors informing teachers’ considerations for their practices. Hence I developed the Framework for Analysing Organic chemistry Teaching for the Advancement of Metacognition (METACOGNITION), comprising of four factors influential on teachers’ considerations and decisions regarding promotion of metacognition in their teaching. These factors individually, and even more so viewed together, provide opportunities to unravel the complexities surrounding the teachers’ practices and to make sense of them. It is important to note that METACOGNITION is not a framework developed to describe generic teaching practices. Rather, it is a tool for offering insights into promotion of metacognition within teaching.
The factors within METACOGNITION are organically related to each other, and whether the factors can be clinically unravelled while exploring teaching practices is a moot point. I claim that addressing the interrelationships and overlapping among the factors enriches the analysis of practices, by encouraging consideration of multiple factors as the underpinning influences. A manifestation of such an interrelationship was apparent in the way L2L project at James King School informed Keith’s considerations for promoting metacognition as an external factor, as well as potentially influencing his conceptualisation of classroom metacognition to be mainly consisting of evaluation of cognitive functions retrospectively.
The first two factors of METACOGNITION are about teachers’ beliefs and conceptions and how these can inform their practices. I did not initially intend to focus on investigating teacher beliefs and the links between the findings and teacher beliefs appeared as a result of the emergent nature of qualitative inquiries.
Moreover, a methodological issue in studying beliefs is limiting research conclusions to teachers’ professed views (Thompson 1992). I tried to tackle this issue by collecting data through multiple sources, from observations of instructional practice and teachers’ comments on specific instructional incidents and contexts.
It is important to consider that the influences of different factors might have conflicting effects on teachers’ considerations for promoting metacognition.
While a teacher’s considerations of various factors within the framework support the encouragement of student metacognition, another factor can urge the teacher to guide students’ cognitive operations and not to emphasise students’ reflection on their thinking. Tracey took on the organic chemistry authority role and evaluated students’ explanations at the whole class level, even though she encouraged and supported students’ reflection on their thinking at the early stages of the activities.
My interpretations and discussions with Tracey revealed that, although she conceptualised students’ use of metacognition as a useful means for facilitating understanding, her priorities about acting as the organic chemistry authority during whole class discussions and the influences of external factors such as preparing the students for the tests and in the least time consuming way were prioritised in informing her practices.
While METACOGNITION enabled me to analyse the issues underpinning the promotion of metacognition, it can also serve as a useful tool for the teachers to analyse and understand their practice. This can be achieved through teachers’ reflection on their teaching, using the factors in METACOGNITION as strands for developing awareness of the perceptions, tensions and constraints on the promotion of metacognition. Such reflection can encourage a critical analysis of their practices. Classrooms, as natural settings of educational practice, are the best places to develop praxis supporting students’ metacognition. Teachers should orchestrate classrooms for promoting students’ metacognition by using tools like to critically reflect on their practice towards that purpose. There is still a pressing need for classroom-based research exploring the socio-cultural complexities of teaching practices by attending to the immediate interactions between the teacher and the students (Cobb 2005), in order to facilitate the establishment of metacognition in organic chemistry classrooms
1.3 Significance of the study
Future research in this area would benefit from projects involving work with teachers over longer periods of time, and promoting teacher research (Hall et al. 2006). An important outcome of this study is the development of METACOGNITION to understand teachers’ promotion of metacognition. Yet, METACOGNITION requires further elaboration, with different teachers and in various educationalm settings, in order to explore the ways in which it can be consolidated and improved to enable constructions of detailed accounts of fostering metacognition within teaching practices.
Belief research has been marked with contradictions about possible links between beliefs and practice (Thompson 1992). A linear causal relationship has not always been the case. By usinMETACOGNITION, I argue that this difficulty can be taken into consideration through attending to multiple factors influencing teachers’ practice.
Especially the fourth factor about external pressures can bring social contextual influences into the picture, and help researchers make sense of teachers’ contradictory considerations informing their practice.
1.To understand the meaning of metacognition
H0: Metacognition does not have an impact on the teaching of organic chemistry concepts at senior secondary school level
H1: Metacognition have an impact on the teaching of organic chemistry concepts at senior secondary school level
There was limited time and finance during the research
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