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Volume XXXIX, No. 14 | April 20, 2017

Metacognition and Next-Gen Learning Models: Meeting Student Success Goals Through Information Literacy

Austin Community College (ACC) recently implemented a required student success course, EDUC 1300, to increase college readiness and student success for first-time-in-college (FTIC) students. The goals for this course include student engagement—which students refer to as “learning how to do college”—and student success in learning across the curriculum. During the development period, student development faculty took on the daunting tasks of:

  • Establishing a curriculum and a basic syllabus,
  • Selecting a textbook, and
  • Hiring and training more than 275 faculty members from a wide variety of disciplines to help teach the course.


One of the key concepts for instructor training and the course curriculum was metacognition. As such, faculty chose two specific definitions for metacognition:

  1. From J.H. Flavell: “Metacognition refers to one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes or anything related to them, e.g., learning relevant properties of information or data.” i
  1. From The National Research Council:Metacognition also includes self-regulation—the ability to orchestrate one’s learning: to plan, monitor success, and correct errors when appropriate . . .” ii

Metacognition is a self-awareness and self-regulation topic that faculty can weave into the curriculum, as Paul Pintrich also notes:

There is a need to teach for metacognitive knowledge explicitly . . . we are continually surprised by the number of students who come to the college having very little metacognitive knowledge; knowledge about different strategies, different cognitive tasks, and particularly, accurate knowledge about themselves.iii

The benefits of teaching metacognition in the classroom are numerous. Faculty find that through discussions, journaling, and self-reflection exercises, teaching metacognition can:

  • Improve students’ thinking skills;
  • Promote conceptual change and cognitive strategies;
  • Reduce the “illusion of knowledge,” the myth that young adults already possess a full understanding about how to find and evaluate credible information;
  • Improve students’ goal-setting skills and ability to achieve these goals (i.e., personal, financial, degree plan, lifestyle); and
  • Enhance students’ overall academic success.

The course curriculum also introduces metacognition as a means to reflect on the following themes:

  • Self-awareness
  • Task-awareness
  • Strategy-awareness and selection
  • Goal-setting
  • Self-monitoring

Information Literacy Integration

The ACC Library Services Information Literacy (IL) team aided in the development of EDUC 1300 course content due to their extensive online interactive presence for students and faculty, their ongoing efforts to integrate IL into current ACC coursework, and their membership on several collegewide committees. This collaboration helped to integrate information literacy and assessment into the new course. Although ACC’s IL integration model is more than 35 years old and discipline-specific, the IL tutorial design team created two engaging student success videos that introduce FTIC students to successful research methods using library services. The videos promote the assistance available from ACC’s expert librarians, the library’s high-quality online resources, and the library as on-campus and digital destinations.

Not only did the IL team want to produce unique resources for students, they were also interested in the critical placement of content. The team endeavored to integrate resources within the curriculum so that content was easily accessible to students, especially when those resources were most needed during the course. To do this, the team created a Blackboard template that includes various resources such as an EDUC 1300 Class Guide and the Student Learning Success Toolbox. The template also provides links to the new library videos and to existing IL tutorials for student success and assessment tools (e.g., Evaluating Information and Academic Honesty/Plagiarism). The overall goal of this initiative is to create more effective, self-directed, lifelong learners who seek out relevant, credible, and accurate information for whatever purposes they choose.

Collaborative Success

The critical success factors in this faculty and librarian collaboration were:

  • The integration of IL into the new student success EDUC 1300 course,
  • The design and inclusion of select tutorials, and
  • Early data about the impact of this integration on students and the faculty who teach the course.

During faculty training, the IL team introduces faculty to the library resources available at ACC, which also spurs a mindful discussion about how students evaluate information. In addition to deficient IL skills, students also lack the ability to look at an item online and understand what type of source it is (e.g., a blog, an article, etc.). Therefore, the IL team addresses two other types of literacy: visual literacy (i.e., how to understand the meaning behind an image or infographic) and technology literacy (i.e., how to select the best technology tool for the task). This collaboration resulted in:

  • Easy access to the various resources and tools in Blackboard,
  • Course integration with a library IL session,
  • IL training session with faculty, and
  • Copyright assistance for faculty training materials.

We invite you to review the resources mentioned in this article and the Research Success tutorials, visit the ACC Library Services website, and send us any feedback that you have about this project.

How do you incorporate metacognition and information literacy into the curriculum? Share your ideas with us in the comment section or on Facebook!

Courtney Mlinar, Head Librarian, and Co-Leader, ACC Information Literacy Team

Tobin Quereau, Professor, Student Development, and EDUC 1300 Curriculum Designer

For further information, contact the authors at Austin Community College – Elgin Campus, 1501 US 290, Elgin, Texas 78621. Email: and


i. Flavell, J H. “Metacognitive Aspects of Problem Solving.” The Nature of Intelligence, edited by L R Resnick, Lawrence Erbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 1976.

ii. National Research Council. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academies Press, 2000.

iii. Pintrich, Paul R. “The Role of Metacognitive Knowledge in Learning, Teaching, and Assessing.” Theory Into Practice, vol. 41, no. 4, 2002, pp. 219–225. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4104_3.

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