Metacognition : a valuable aid to understanding for medical students in problem-based learning
This study involved the first year medical students at the University of Glasgow and was designed to instil the students with metacognition. The students were briefly introduced to the concepts of context specificity, rote memorisation, and the variation in leaning styles. They were then given instruction in concept mapping stressing the metacognitive comfort of chunking and linking information. Emphasis was placed on thoughtful reflection and the integration of various disciplines. The students were told that the quality and effectiveness of their concept maps could not be assessed by anyone else. Following their normal process the students, in small groups, read the patient scenario, listed the main issues on the board and discussed each in turn. When the discussion was completed six to eight questions were generated based on gaps in knowledge highlighted during the discussion. The students individually sought answers to the questions posed. Before returning to their group for a final discussion of the questions the test subjects were asked to: put away all notes and texts, reread the scenario, using the 3-part NCR form provided construct a concept map indicating how you understand the problem, tear off bottom page of the form. The students were then instructed to take out notes and texts and make any corrections or additions desired, then tear off the bottom page of their form. The two concept maps were turned in at the beginning of the next PBL session. The students retained the top sheet of the 3-part form for their notes. Data was collected from 9 PBL groups for 10 scenarios, 546 2-part maps in all. The collected concept maps were analysed for general layout and quantity of data but not for accuracy. This analysis yielded some insight into concept formation and a quite surprising consistency of data bits for an individual over a variety of scenarios.