Metacognitive Café - Improving Student Metacognition through Online Discussions

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Weekly, low-stakes “Metacognitive Cafe” discussions raise students’ awareness of how they learn and their level of understanding while underscoring the need to more actively engage with course materials. This paper discusses students’ participation in, and reaction to, these discussions.


Judith M Littlejohn is the Instructional Designer at SUNY Genesee Community College in Batavia, NY, and teaches history courses online.

Additional Authors

John Kane is a Professor of Economics and the Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at SUNY-Oswego.

Extended Abstract

Students in online history and economics classes participate in metacognition-building activities through a low-stakes weekly discussion forum called “The Metacognitive Café.” These discussion forums are designed to encourage students to reflect on their learning practices, and to develop a more accurate understanding of their comprehension of course concepts. Embedded in the discussion prompts are readings and short videos that present information concerning evidence-based learning practices. Students are invited to reflect on how their learning practices compare with those grounded in learning science.

These discussions provide students with an interesting discovery process in which together they learn that many of their habits are not effective in encouraging long-term learning. This is reinforced by sharing their successes and struggles with their peers, resulting in increased community building and engagement.

In this session, we will share how this process has evolved, including discussions prompts and student feedback. Participants will learn how to incorporate low-stakes discussions into their courses and work in small groups to identify appropriate questions for their specific learning outcomes and subject matter.

The URL to a resource page containing sample discussion questions, critical thinking resources, and videos used to facilitate discussion will be provided.