Surviving Anatomy and Physiology: can metacognitive training help?

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Students both love and hate Human Anatomy and Physiology (and other challenging upper-division courses). Success in challenging courses requires metacognitive ability and self-efficacy. The research is unclear, however, regarding how metacognitive ability and self-efficacy influence each other. High self-efficacy may increase metacognitive performance because self-efficacy increases intrinsic motivation and improves use of effective learning strategies. The reverse relationship - a positive effect of metacognitive performance on self-efficacy - may or may not exist. If metacognitive training increases self-efficacy, the value of metacognitive training would be amplified by a synergistic effect of metacognition and self-efficacy on academic performance. The effect would be especially important in courses perceived as "challenging" because self-efficacy is situation-specific; general academic ability does not determine self-efficacy in course.

This study hypothesized that improved metacognitive performance would increase self-efficacy and academic performance. Results indicated that metacognitive training improved student metacognitive practices and attenuated decreases in student self-efficacy. Neither of these effects increased academic performance measures (exam scores and final course grades).

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