McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Karen Arcos


Major and Classification


Faculty Mentor

    Kimberle Kelly, Ph.D.



McNair Project

Teachers Think Too: The Relationship of Teacher Metacognition to Student Learning

The current study explored the relationships between three principles of learning (content knowledge, metacognition, and access to prior knowledge; Bransford et al., 2000) among eighth grade public school teachers enrolled in a professional development course. First, the relation between teachers' chemistry content knowledge and metacognition (i.e., self-assessed accuracy) was established using secondary data from the Chemistry Concept Inventory. Findings indicated that teachers predicted their performance relative to other teachers, (percentile rank) more accurately than their absolute performance (percent correct). Absolute performance was overestimated by about 8%. Second, teacher prediction of student performance was examined. Specifically, the contribution of teachers' content knowledge and metacognition in accurately predicting students' prior content knowledge was explored. Results showed that teachers have a very limited understanding of their students' prior knowledge. Further, no significant relationships were found between teachers' content knowledge, metacognition, and the accuracy of teacher prediction regarding students' prior content knowledge. Third, the study assessed how teachers' content knowledge, metacognition, and access to prior knowledge influenced students' performance on standardized tests. While the combined teacher factors explained 38% of the variance in student test scores, the most significant predictor was teacher metacognition scores. Professional development programs would thus better serve both teachers and students if they developed both domain-specific content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge focused on teachers' metacognitive strategies.