Tracing Pedagogical Memory: The Role of Teaching Metacognition and Learning Concepts in Student Writing Development

Zinchuk, Jennifer E. Tracing Pedagogical Memory: The Role of Teaching Metacognition and Learning Concepts in Student Writing Development. 2015. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

Recent composition research has demonstrated that metacognition plays an important role in student success and working through challenges at times of consequential transitions. This study examines students’ uptake of metacognitive practices and learning concepts while enrolled in a linguistically and culturally diverse writing course located at the transition into university life. This study investigates the immediate and long-term value of a writing course, Writing Ready, that inhabits what composition scholars have defined as a third space, or locations outside of traditional classrooms where writing knowledge is exchanged, and provides a framework to identify and measure metacognition in students’ written and spoken narratives. My research investigates how this early fall start bridge writing course—by explicitly teaching metacognitive strategies and learning concepts through writing and by supporting students in developing confidence, self-efficacy, and reflective strategies—is remembered by students over their first year and how this pedagogical memory aides them in writing knowledge transfer. Through a study design based in grounded theory, I draw on focus group data from both students and instructors as well as student writing and interview data to show how this third space course, which explicitly teaches learning concepts and metacognition, enables students to activate their writing knowledge in a variety of contexts. Understanding the complex nature of metacognition enables writing instructors to facilitate the development of students’ reflective practice, understanding of writing assessment, and confidence in their writing abilities. Expanding the focus of composition research beyond the traditional writing classroom into the interstitial space between high school and college provides insight into how students’ prior writing knowledge can be transformed into pedagogical memories that persist over time. Developing a positive academic disposition is especially important for students who feel underprepared for college writing, namely immigrant and international multilingual students, students of color, and first-generation college students.

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