SEPCHE investigated the extent to which learning factors are enhanced by altering instruction to incorporate active pathways to learning. Utilizing metacognitive skills in a “learning how to learn” approach was believed to help students develop cognitive skills that enabled them to master more disciplinary content in targeted courses. The project consisted of four parts:

  1. Collaborative faculty development focusing on the application of current research in cognitive science to learning strategies and performance-based learning in core curricula;
  2. Adaptation of core courses;
  3. Implementation of project and comparison courses over two semesters;
  4. In-depth assessment of student achievement using both qualitative and quantitative measures.

In Fall 2008, SEPCHE convened a collegium of 16 faculty (2 from each SEPCHE institution) who taught core courses in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Participating faculty worked together during Spring 2009 to develop metacognitive approaches to instruction in their discipline. During academic year 2009-10, faculty introduced metacognitive teaching strategies in project courses. A smaller sample of comparison courses was also given. Overall results indicate that metacognitive teaching approaches may have provided a protective or stabilizing influence against typical declines in learner confidence in special treatment classes.