Harnessing the Brightspace virtual learning environment to promote the development of metacognitive skills in Veterinary undergraduates

O'Neill, Emma, Fulton, Crystal, Matthews, James and Hensey, Carmel Harnessing the Brightspace virtual learning environment to promote the development of metacognitive skills in Veterinary undergraduates.


Background: Metacognition refers to self-awareness of learning, encompassing ability to self-monitor,
control and purposefully direct approaches. Metacognitive skills are fundamental for medical professionals with evidence linking metacognition with improved academic achievement and critical thinking. Education strategies that foster metacognitive development would offer significant impact. The virtual learning environment (VLE) provides a conduit to influence learning outside standard class time in a way achievable with realistic levels of staff intervention.

Summary of Work: Teaching Fellows from varied disciplines undertook a mixed methods study
investigating leverage of the VLE to support student metacognition. Learning interventions were
developed informed by work of the Education Endowment Foundation who developed recommendations
for the translation of research on teaching metacognition into educational practice. The interventions were
mapped to generate a generic Metacognition Design Framework using learning design sequences adapted from Oliver (1999). This framework was trialed in three case studies: in each a context-specific intervention was designed and delivered within Brightspace guided by a Metacognitive Design Sequence adapted from the overall framework. The Metacognitive Awareness Inventory and self-efficacy for learning sub-scale (Motivation for Learning Questionnaire) were administered pre- and post-intervention with qualitative data gained from reflections, open-ended questions and focus groups with students and key stakeholders.

Summary of Results: This Veterinary case study delivered a blended module to 118 students; 53 enrolled on the study: 40 completing Pre- and Post-Questionnaires, 17 attended focus groups. There were significant increases in students metacognitive skills, both metacognitive knowledge (0.43: Cohens-d) and
metacognitive regulation (0.61), and self-efficacy for learning (0.46). Qualitative data revealed that
students perceived a positive impact on their learning, commenting on increased strategy use and
regulation of their learning. Stakeholders referred to a transformative and lasting impact on students
learning experience and recognised the value of the Metacognition Design Framework for wider
application of the approaches.

Discussion and Conclusions: It is possible to have tangible impact on student learning and the
development of metacognitive skills using learning strategies orchestrated within the VLE using learning
design sequences.

Take-home Messages: Metacognition is a key professional competency for effective lifelong learning. This
study offers insight into the potential for VLE-based interventions to aid metacogitive development using a targeted framework.

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