WPA 2014 – Zinchuk – Eng108 Prog profile

Reflection through
Fostering Metacognition in
Underprepared and Multilingual
Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk
University of Washington
[email protected]
• Context for English 108: Writing Ready
• Theoretical Foundations
• Overview of the Course
• Understanding our Students
• Metacognition in Practice
• Course Assessment
• Reflections, Risks, and Recommendations
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)
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).
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)
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
• Self-reflection (Beaufort)
• Self-assessment / Self-appraisal (Hacker)
• Self-efficacy (Hacker; McCarthy, et al.) / Help-seeking
(Williams and Takaku).
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).
Overview of the Course
• Title: Writing Ready—Getting a Start on Writing in
• Recently, 20 sections taught by Graduate TAs.
• Approximately 16 students per section (321 enrolled last
• 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
• 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.
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)
Overview of the Course
2) Group Conference Presentation
• Library research workshop
• Individual research task (~Annotated bibliography)
• Group Conference Presentation (+ attend and evaluate
• Conference analysis
3) Final portfolio
• All class writing organized into portfolio
• In-class writing reflection
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
• 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)
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
• Program directors decided to keep the curriculum as-is,
only adjusting training so that instructors felt more
confident working with the international student
Metacognition in Practice
• Reflective Writing – low-stakes writing as well as selfaware 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.
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.
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)
Overall median
Your instructor’s feedback on your writing
Conference(s) with your instructor
Research and Presentation Project
Group work for research presentation
Workshop(s) on criteria scores and grades
Essays/Papers reflecting on writing and learning strategies
In-class discussion of student writing and writing strategies
Scavenger hunt
Freewrites/in-class writings/informal writing
Conferences with a writing tutor
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.
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).
Course Assessment
• Instructor Feedback
• Focus group reflections on what they taught, challenges and
• Follow-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.
• 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?
• Consider adding metacognitive tasks to your classrooms,
in addition to reflective writing, consider:
• Evaluating sample essays as a class; consider a norming
• 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.
Beaufort, Anne. College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction. Logan, UT:
Utah State University Press, 2007. 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, 1998. 1-23. Print.
McCarthy, Patricia, Meier, Scott and Rinderer, Regina. “Self-Efficacy and Writing: A Different View of SelfEvaluation. College Composition and Communication, 36.4, (Dec. 1985): 465-471.
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): 95-110. Print.
Webster, John. Personal Interview. 02 June 2014.
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, 1998. 93-115. Print.
Webster, John. "Going International: Getting Ready to Write Through English 108." English Matters (Spring
2012). University of Washington English Department, 17 May 2012. Web
Webster, John and Elizabeth Brown. Report on English 108 Student Course Evaluations from Early Fall Start
2013. Rep.
Williams, James D. and Takaku, Seiji. “Help Seeking, Self-Efficacy, and Writing Performance Among College
Students. Journal of Writing Research, 3.1 (2011): 1-18. Print.
Thank you!!
Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk, University of Washington,
[email protected], www.globalpedagogy.com

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