The manifestation of metacognitive thinking in university teachers’ perceptions of their professional development

Year: 2019

Author: Iiskala, Tuike, Virtanen, Henna, Murtonen, Mari

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
The aim of the present study is to investigate the manifestation of metacognitive thinking in university teachers’ perceptions of themselves as a developing teacher. Metacognitive thinking is typically perceived as an essential characteristic of a high-level academic learning (e.g., Griffin et al., 2002) and is suggested to be an important element in expert university teachers’ teaching (see McAlpine & Weston, 2000). However, there is variation in the ways academics focus on and are aware of their development as a university teacher (see Åkerlind, 2003, 2007, 2011). While metacognitive thinking is investigated among university students, there is a lack of research on university teachers’ metacognitive thinking and how it is present in the perceptions of their professional development.

The participants of the present study are 21 Finnish university teachers (11 women, 10 men) who took part in the university pedagogical study module called ‘Becoming a teacher’. Academics from various disciplines, at different career stages and with various amount of teaching experience were included in the study. The participants were aged 26 to 63 years old (mean age 38.7). Each participant wrote an essay during the course (1000-1500 words) that reflected his/her own developmental process as a teacher. The essays were then analysed through qualitative content analysis (see Chi, 1997). First, all segments (i.e., meaningful units) representing metacognitive thinking (N = 124) were selected. Second, each metacognitive segment was classified according to two criteria: A) how uni- or multidimensionally the manifestation of metacognitive thinking was and B) whether the manifestation of metacognitive thinking was static (represented stable metacognitive thinking) or dynamic (represented change in metacognitive thinking). After classifying the segments, each essay was placed on the y-axis according to criterion A and on the x-axis based on criterion B. Based on these two criteria, the following fourfold typology of the manifestation of metacognitive thinking in university teachers’ perception of themselves as a developing teacher was constructed and qualitatively described in the results: 1) unidimensional-static (N = 5), 2) unidimensional-dynamic (N = 5), 3) multidimensional-static (N = 6) and 4) multidimensional-dynamic (N = 5). The findings showed that metacognitive thinking manifests itself differently among university teachers. This finding can be used to develop university pedagogic studies to support university teachers’ metacognitive thinking as part of their professional development. The future task will be to analyse how the metacognitive thinking of teachers from the above-mentioned four groups is reflected in their practical teaching activities.

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