Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Lewis

Date of this Version

Fall 10-10-2017


Rivero, A.M. (2017) Bonding ideas about inquiry: Exploring knowledge and practices of metacognition in beginning secondary science teachers (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning), Under the Supervision of Professor Elizabeth Lewis. Lincoln, Nebraska: September, 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Ana Margarita Rivero Arias


Metacognition, identified generally as “thinking about thinking,” plays a fundamental role in science education. It enhances the understanding of science as a way to generate new knowledge using scientific concepts and practices. Moreover, metacognition supports the development of students’ life-long problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. When teachers use metacognition with intention, it can promote students’ agency and responsibility for their own learning. However, despite all of its benefits, metacognition is rarely seen in secondary science classrooms. Thus, it is important to understand what beginning teachers know and how they use metacognition during their first years in order to find ways to prepare and support them in incorporating metacognitive practices into their science teaching.

The purpose of this multimethod study was to describe the metacognitive knowledge and experiences of beginning science teachers. For the quantitative research strand, I surveyed 36 secondary science teachers about their awareness of metacognition and used classroom observations coded from a larger research study to identify how often teachers were using metacognition to teach science. For the qualitative strand, I interviewed 15 participants about their knowledge and experiences of metacognition (including reflective practices) and spent two weeks observing two of the teachers who described exemplary metacognitive teaching practices.

I found that participants had a solid awareness of metacognition, but considered the term complicated to enact, difficult for students, and less important to focus on during their first years of teaching than other elements such as content. Additionally, teaching experience seemed to have an effect on teachers’ knowledge and experiences of metacognition. However, participants who were using metacognitive practices had recognized their importance since the beginning of their teaching. Reflective practices can help improve teaching, but what seems more effective is for teachers to have an experience using metacognition embedded in science content.

The results of this study include a description of metacognitive teaching practices that could be helpful for secondary science teachers. The study also provides recommendations for future research, especially for teacher education programs, to promote a better understanding of metacognition while preparing secondary science teachers.

Advisor: Elizabeth Lewis