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Reflection through Transition: Fostering Metacognition in Underprepared and Multilingual Writers Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk University of Washington

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Presentation on theme: "Reflection through Transition: Fostering Metacognition in Underprepared and Multilingual Writers Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk University of Washington"— Presentation transcript:

1 Reflection through Transition: Fostering Metacognition in Underprepared and Multilingual Writers Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk University of Washington

2 Introduction Context for English 108: Writing Ready Theoretical Foundations Overview of the Course Understanding our Students Metacognition in Practice Course Assessment Reflections, Risks, and Recommendations

3 Context for English 108 Administrators indicated a need to create a writing course for “underprepared” students before school starts. “Various administrators had asked us to create a remedial English grammar course. Their students couldn’t write, they said. One instructor even declared that he had received papers that ‘had no verbs!’” (Webster “Going International”) Recognizing the problems with remediation, UW writing program faculty took a different approach to understanding “underprepared” students: Students lack confidence in writing (I’m a “bad” writer) Students lack practice in writing (fluency and comfort with writing tasks)

4 Theoretical Foundations Confidence – how one feels about his/her abilities and performance as a writer Bandura, in his theory on self-efficacy, suggests that "individuals will perform a task successfully if they know what behaviors will produce desired outcomes and if they evaluate themselves as capable of performing the necessary behaviors” (in McCarthy, Meier and Rinderer, p. 466).

5 Theoretical Foundations Fluency – “the sense that you have [written] so much it becomes automatized.” “I want students to think of writing as something that helps them do a very hard thing rather than be the hard thing itself" (Webster “Interview”). Étude (short, difficult, musical composition used to practice a particular skill)

6 Theoretical Foundations Metacognition: “Thinking about Thinking” Two components to metacognition: Metacognitive Awareness: awareness of a task and of thinking & learning strategies; Metacognitive Regulation: use of metacognitive awareness to monitor and control thinking and learning. (Hacker; Negretti & Kuteeva) In the writing classroom, 3 central areas to develop metacognition: Self-reflection (Beaufort) Self-assessment / Self-appraisal (Hacker) Self-efficacy (Hacker; McCarthy, et al.) / Help-seeking behavior (Williams and Takaku).

7 Theoretical Foundations Consequential Transitions : Are a change in the relationship between an individual and social activities that are “consciously reflected on, struggled with, and shif[t] the individual's sense of self or social position" (Beach, p. 42). Teaching metacognition is important at this moment of transition, especially for underrepresented students: "Once accepted to college, underrepresented students must then compete with peers who may have experienced a greater variety of privileged extracurricular opportunities... as well as the confidence passed along by family members who possess generations of college experience... In addition, colleges tend to reflect dominant cultural modes in their curriculum, climate, and student body culture, and students from underrepresented groups often report feeling marginalized or outside of the college experience for a variety of reasons" (Moore, Pyne, and Patch).

8 Overview of the Course Title: Writing Ready—Getting a Start on Writing in College. Recently, 20 sections taught by Graduate TAs. Approximately 16 students per section (321 enrolled last year). Taught during Early Fall Start, one month before regular Autumn Quarter begins. 2 ½ hours per day, 4 days per week, for 4 weeks. That’s 40 classroom hours (loosely equivalent to 1 quarter). All students are incoming freshmen, they receive 5 credits on their Autumn Quarter transcripts. The course has an additional fee ($1,494); most students live in the dorms.

9 Overview of the Course Organized into 2 Sequences and Writing Portfolio: 1) My Learning Profile First day writing “Snapshot” of a memorable writing moment (positive or negative) Read Kohl’s “I Won’t Learn From You” My Writing Life – reflection on who you are as a writer Read Ramirez and Beilock “Writing About Testing Worries Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom” Read Meyer and Land “Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge” My Learning Profile – analysis of who you are as a learner (integrating learning concepts with experiences)

10 Overview of the Course 2) Group Conference Presentation Library research workshop Individual research task (~Annotated bibliography) Group Conference Presentation (+ attend and evaluate others) Conference analysis 3) Final portfolio All class writing organized into portfolio In-class writing reflection

11 Understanding our Students In 2004, 40 students enrolled: 75% of students were domestic; 25% were international. By 2009, 160 students enrolled and 40% were international students. In 2011, 300 students enrolled and 270 of those were international students (90%) (Webster, “Going International”) In 2013, 321 students enrolled and 80% were international students, with 80% of those students coming from the People’s Republic of China. (Webster and Brown)

12 Understanding our Students English 108 has become a highly-recommended course among networks of international students With this shift in demographics, a choice had to be made: Do we re-structure the curriculum for English language learners or do we continue with our focus on confidence and fluency? Program directors decided to keep the curriculum as-is, only adjusting training so that instructors felt more confident working with the international student population.

13 Metacognition in Practice Reflective Writing – low-stakes writing as well as self- aware writing assignments. “One way of supporting metacognitive development is to encourage students to reflect on and evaluate their activities" (Kuhn and Dean, p 270). Self-Assessment – demystifying assessment, facilitating effective peer review.

14 Metacognition in Practice Self-Efficacy – break down reading and writing tasks (Sitko), help-seeking behavior (Williams and Takaku) “Writers themselves must develop metacognitive knowledge and strategies for planning, organizing, drafting, revising, and editing. Strategy instruction is considered metacognitive only when it actively engages students in understanding their own learning” (Sitko, p. 100 ). Introduction to university resources: writing centers, libraries, other campus offices.

15 Course Assessment 2-part course evaluation on last day of class How useful to your learning was each of the following (on a scale 1-7, 7 highest) QuestionOverall median Your instructor’s feedback on your writing6.7 Conference(s) with your instructor6.5 Research and Presentation Project6.5 Group work for research presentation6.5 Workshop(s) on criteria scores and grades6.3 Essays/Papers reflecting on writing and learning strategies6.2 In-class discussion of student writing and writing strategies6.1 Scavenger hunt5.7 Freewrites/in-class writings/informal writing5.6 Conferences with a writing tutor5.1

16 Course Assessment Self-reported confidence jump: “Students indicated that confidence in their ability to successfully prepare for and complete college level writing increased by almost two categories across sections (for example, from ‘somewhat confident’ to ‘very confident’).” (Webster and Brown). Full range of confidence change ranges across sections from a 0.8 increase to a 2.9 increase.

17 Course Assessment Short Answer responses: “Students found group work, self-evaluation, and general ‘writing skills’ to be among the most important things they learned in English 108,” “Students said writing, team-work, and communication skills as well as confidence gained in the course would be the most important to them as UW students,” When asked about individual instructor contributions to the course, students indicated that “writing instruction and building student confidence” were most significant. When asked what changes to the course they would make, majority indicated “no change” or “perfect.” (Webster and Brown).

18 Course Assessment Instructor Feedback Focus group reflections on what they taught, challenges and successes. F ollow-up with students at the end of their first year Focus groups and individual interviews about their experiences as students and writers during their first year.

19 Reflections How can we re-conceptualize remediation, basic writing, and English as a Second Language instruction to help students understand themselves as learners and develop active learning dispositions? How can we re-conceptualize instruction at moments of transition to help students activate prior knowledge and apply it to new learning contexts? How can we model metacognition so that it becomes a normal learning activity?

20 Recommendations Consider adding metacognitive tasks to your classrooms, in addition to reflective writing, consider: Evaluating sample essays as a class; consider a norming workshop. Spending some time working through reading and writing strategies, especially breaking larger tasks into smaller manageable parts. Writing more! Low-stakes writing helps students develop more comfort with writing tasks. Inviting students to visit office hours and/or individual or group conferences to build faculty relationships.

21 Beaufort, Anne. College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, Project MUSE database. Early Fall Start. English 108, Writing Ready: Preparing for College Writing (2014). Retrieved from Hacker, Douglas J. "Definitions and Empirical Foundations." Metacognition in Educational Theory and Practice. Eds. Douglas J. Hacker, John Dunlosky, and Arthur C. Graesser. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Print. McCarthy, Patricia, Meier, Scott and Rinderer, Regina. “Self-Efficacy and Writing: A Different View of Self- Evaluation. College Composition and Communication, 36.4, (Dec. 1985): Negretti, Raffaella. and Kuteeva, Maria. “Fostering Metacognitive Genre Awareness in L2 Academic Reading and Writing: A Case Study of Pre-Service English Teachers.” Journal of Second Language Writing, 20 (2011): Print. Webster, John. Personal Interview. 02 June Sitko, Barbara M. "Knowing How to Write: Metacognition and Writing Instruction. Metacognition in Educational Theory and Practice. Eds. Douglas J. Hacker, John Dunlosky, and Arthur C. Graesser. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Print. Webster, John. "Going International: Getting Ready to Write Through English 108." English Matters (Spring 2012). University of Washington English Department, 17 May Web https://depts.washington.edu/engl/newsletter/2012-2/international.php Webster, John and Elizabeth Brown. Report on English 108 Student Course Evaluations from Early Fall Start Rep. Williams, James D. and Takaku, Seiji. “Help Seeking, Self-Efficacy, and Writing Performance Among College Students. Journal of Writing Research, 3.1 (2011): Print.

22 Thank you!! Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk, University of Washington,


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