campus partner(s)

Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education






Fresh Thinking

award date


project director

Beth Moy

Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education

Grant Summary

$148,950 over 34 months. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education (SEPCHE) will form a Collegium based on the following premises:

  1. Ongoing developmental brain research indicates that the regions of the brain associated with cognitive control are latest to mature and that the process of maturation continues well into young adulthood.
  2. Research on cognition at the college level draws attention to the importance of the development of higher order cognitive abilities as a major factor underlying students' academic success.
  3. Students' success in college depends on the development of their metacognitive capacities, that is, their ability to set goals, to develop strategies to achieve them, to monitor their own progress, and to make accommodations as needed.

Building on this basis, the Collegium will explore the question of whether shifting instruction in a sample of core courses to a "learning how to learn" approach will help students develop cognitive skills that will enable them to master more disciplinary content in those targeted courses.

The project will launch in a summer 2008 with a workshop that will introduce the initiative to SEPCHE faculty and that will get them to start thinking about how current research in cognitive science can be applied to learning strategies and performance-based learning in the core curriculum. From this workshop, 16 faculty members (two from each SEPCHE institution from across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences), will be chosen to participate in theCollegium. The Collegium will be led by a team of two conveners (faculty members with demonstrated expertise in the field of cognition and performance-based learning), a research consultant from a research university currently studying the linkages between cognitive science and student learning in postsecondary education, and a faculty development specialist with expertise in student learning. Collegium faculty will engage in a second workshop in summer 2009 to incorporate metacognitive learning strategies into their core courses. Identifying core principles of their discipline, they will modify their courses so that students can acquire content and conceptual frameworks alongside the process skills that encourage cognitive synthesis and integration. Collegium faculty will pilot their modified core courses in the 2009-2010 academic year, and will work with an external evaluator to determine appropriate assessment measures of their students' learning in these courses. They will present the results of their work at a consortium-wide faculty conference at the end of the project period.