Metacognition and instructional design:
Theory-driven goals and methods
in a large university physics class


The University of Maryland
Physics Education Research Group

A Theoretical Frame for Education

Theoretical principles

Some structures in LTM

Physical reasoning maps primitives onto situations

Organization of Long-Term Memory: Schemas


The Impact on Goals and Methods

The “Meta” Level


The Meta-Level is also Structured.

Epistemological Resources: Expectations and Frames


The Instructional Environment

The Constraints

The tools we have used so far

Some First Steps

Changing the Nature of Classroom Discourse: Adding Epistemology to ILDs

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

The Trouble with ILDs

Modifying the Meta-Message in an ILD

The Impact

Understanding Tutorials

The trouble with traditional “end-of-chapter” problems

A More Complex view of Problem Solving


Building the Physics Problem

Adding reality to representations

Some Non-Traditional
Physics Problems

A representation translation problem

Some estimation problems

A real-world conceptual problem

A context-based reasoning problem

A problem without an answer

The Impact

Responses of
traditional students

Responses of our
“new and improved” students

Quantitative Results

Overall Results: Large Universities (M)

MPEX Results in Metaclass Trial

Some notable MPEX gains
(N = 60; F = disagree)

Algebra-based (’00)     Calc-based (’95)

Fractional gains on conceptual test of Newtonian mechanics

The Next Steps

Giving Voice to Epistemology

Examples of epistemic games

Building independence in the lab

A radical reformation