Knowledge Building and Metacognitive reflection in on line university courses
Stefano Cacciamani & Tiziana Ferrini, University of Valle d'Aosta, Italy
The goal of the present study is to verify if a specific practice of metacognitive reflection on the strategies of studying can have any effect on the knowledge building activity, also with reference to different levels of participation in an on line course .
Sixty students of the Faculty of Education at University of Valle d'Aosta were involved in this study. All the participants were students-workers aged from 20 to 40. Among them 26 (3 males and 23 females) participated to an on line courses using Knowledge Forum (KF) with a metacognitive reflection activity and 34 (4 males and 30 females) participated to an on line course without a metacognitive reflection activity.
In the group with the metacognitive reflection, at the end of each module some questions were presented to invite the students to describe the strategies of study and to identify their strong and weak points; in the group without metacognitive reflection these activities were not foreseen. The different levels of participation to the on line activity was distinguished considering the 6 more central and more peripheral participants in both groups. The two levels were identified over the 75th percentile (central) and under the 25th percentile (peripheral) with reference to the number of notes written in KF.
The knowledge building activity was checked in terms of Epistemic Agency (EA hereinafter), through the Content Analysis of the KF notes. A coding scheme was employed to distinguish the contents of the notes in terms of Advanced EA (Exploring Problems and Evaluating contents and strategies) and Basic EA (Proposing and Elaborating Information), with an agreement between two independent judges of 80%.
The results show no changes considering the people presenting a central level of participation. The peripheral participants attending the course with a metacognitive reflection activity start at the beginning with a strong difference between Basic and Advanced EA and at the end of the course they reach a balanced situation between the two kind of EA. The theoretical and practical implications of these results are discussed.