Readings: E-Learning: Chapter 15


Chapter 15—e-Learning to Build Thinking Skills (pages 338–367)

Read the chapter and then complete the poll. Write your response by Thursday. Reply to at least 2 people’s posts. :heart: at least 3 that seem interesting, provocative, that you agree with, or otherwise wish to acknowledge. At least one of your responses should be written after Thursday when everyone has had a chance to post. Ideally, you’ll participate on at least three different days.

What to look for:

C&M (2011) define metacognition as the skill that sets goals, plans approaches, monitors progress, and makes adjustments as needed. Learners with good metacongitive skills are able to go beyond the outcome of the task and understand the rationale behind decisions that helped achieve the outcome.

Pay particular attention to the Thinking Skills Principles:

  • Principle 1: Focus on job specific cognitive and metacognitive skills.
  • Principle 2: Consider a whole-task course design
  • Principle 3: Make thinking processes explicit
  • Principle 4: Define job specific thinking processes

##What to do:

  • Answer the poll.
  • Discuss and exchange ideas on methods for making problem solving processes explicit in e-learning, and/or ways to teach metacognitive skills.
  • If you can, give an example on a success or failure that you’ve had while teaching problem solving skills.

##Chapter 15 Poll ###1. Can problem solving skills be taught?

  • YES
  • NO

0 voters

###2. Which type of thinking skill involves setting goals, monitoring progress, and adjusting approaches?

  • Creative Thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Metacognition

0 voters

###3. In your opinion, how important is metacognition in problem solving?

  • 4 - Very Important
  • 3 - Slightly Important
  • 2 - Not Important at All
  • 1 - What is metacognition?

0 voters

###4. Which type of instruction teaches skills in the context of a realistic work task?

  • Part-Task Course Design
  • Whole-Task Course Design

0 voters

###5. Which type of instruction involves teaching prerequisite knowledge first and content is broken into small segments?

  • Part-Task Course Design
  • Whole-Task Course Design

0 voters

@tmroland @Virginia_Warren


When I first read the topics for this weeks post, I immediately had several ideas and examples, but none of them focused on e-learning. Although Coast Guard aviation relies heavily on CBTs and other online training, there is always a face-to-face interaction with an instructor after the training has been completed (so in my mind not a “true” e-learning environment).

So, two things eventually came to mind to help instruct metacognitive skills in e-learning – a realistic model or relevant task and timely/effective evaluation/feedback.

Using examples to relate course objectives to the end goal (job or education), the learner process the information that is the most useful. When you start taking about metacognitive skills (higher order of thinking) the course needs to enable the learner to solve non-routine tasks (C&M). The course might have covered all the steps to solve complex problems, but if the learner can’t relate the topics to their environment they will have no idea how to link topics learned to practical situations.

Timely feedback is one of the most powerful tools in helping learners grasp concepts and transfer the knowledge to long-term memory. Having the student evaluate their own performance can be an effective means of getting this across. Simple questions like what steps did you take and if you were presented with this challenge in the future would you take the same steps?

In aviation there is a saying that all pilots know – “aviate, navigate, communicate”. In teaching new pilots how to complete complex missions, I come back to this. Especially with those pilots struggling at solving problems. One of the more challenging and risky maneuvers we do is making an approach and hovering low over the water at night. As an instructor I will frequently distract the other pilot with a malfunction or radio call while we are in this “critical” stage of flight to try to instill problem solving in a very demanding time. Those pilots that can aviate, navigate, and communicate (in that order) usually do just fine. Others, that get tunnel vision on the “distraction”, usually break our altitude hard-deck or put the aircraft in an unsafe attitude, which results in them losing the controls.


Since I work in an e-learning environment daily, it’s usually the first thing I think about. It’s good for me to be surrounded by a variety of instructors. Do you think technology makes it easier to teach problem solving skills?


###Discuss and exchange ideas on methods for making problem solving processes explicit in e-learning, and/or ways to teach metacognitive skills. In teaching problem solving tasks in an e-learning format I would have to suggest that regardless of the course design either whole (work assignment) or part-task instruction, implementing practice problem solving sets perhaps graduated with complexity and include proficiency measurements to advance at the learner’s level. The practice sets should support the process with immediate feedback and clear descriptions.

###If you can, give an example on a success or failure that you’ve had while teaching problem solving skills. In my profession, I work with adults diagnosed with dementia, stroke, traumatic brain injury, etc. All of these encompass deficits in problem solving or what we group under cognitive-linguistic deficits. We provide scenarios from simple to complex in an auditory, visual (what’s wrong-picture), or written format. Overall, it has been a pleasure to help and see these individuals improve even in small gains. But the most challenging for me has been in dealing with my son diagnosed with ADHD primarily inattentive type. He struggles with metacognitive skills and it has been painful over the years in trying to help (tutoring, medication, schedules, etc.) him succeed and watch the struggle damage his spirit and psyche. I am proud to report that he is surviving in college and I no longer function as his full-time assistant but it has been a long process and I cringe when he tells me of his failings…the struggle is real.


It is great for us to be in a class with students with such a wide variety of life and professional experience. I have learned from other student’s perspectives on many topics. A gain is a gain, even if we don’t consider it a large one. Every “failure” is an integral part of the problem solving experience.


Depending on the types of problems you’re trying to teach – technology can make a huge difference. We utilize all kinds of simulations ranging from interactive system boards to full motion simulators. These are great tools to help teach problem solving because it allows the learners to experience “bad and good” problem solving. They can learn from their own experiences without risk to equipment or harm. So in my professional field, technology has helped – but what if you worked as a customer service agent, would you get the same amount of benefit?


Metacognitive strategies can be taught…successful learners can have a whole repertoire of strategies, but instructors should still assist in the metacognitive process. Metacognition spans three distinct phases: planning, monitoring, and evaluating. A method to implement a metacognitive strategy would be to model the application with a set of questions that prompt learners to evaluate themselves. For example:

  • During the planning phase, learners can ask, What am I supposed to learn? What prior knowledge will help me with this task? What should I do first? What should I look for in this reading? How much time do I have to complete this? In what direction do I want my thinking to take me?

  • During the monitoring phase, learners can ask, How am I doing? Am I on the right track? How should I proceed? What information is important to remember? Should I move in a different direction? Should I adjust the pace because of the difficulty? What can I do if I do not understand?

  • During the evaluation phase, learners can ask, How well did I do? What did I learn? Did I get the results I expected? What could I have done differently? Can I apply this way of thinking to other problems or situations? Is there anything I don’t understand—any gaps in my knowledge? Do I need to go back through the task to fill in any gaps in understanding? How might I apply this line of thinking to other problems?

Another strategy would be an advanced organizer, like the KWL (know, want, learn). The KWL (know, want, learn) strategy (Dixon-Krauss, 1996) attaches importance to students being actively involved in thinking about their learning. First, students need to know or identify what they already know. They may do this by discussing what they know and brainstorm or list information that they have. This step invites students to bring their own experience and background knowledge to the learning situation. Having completed this step, learners are in a position to identify what they want to learn and know more about. In this way the learners are active in constructing their learning, rather than being told what they must learn by the teacher. Finally, they reflect on what they did learn. Students review their learning which is made more meaningful as they make connections between prior knowledge and new learning.


I think this is a really simple and great reflective step that people often forget to take. These types of practices increase students’ abilities to transfer or adapt their learning to new contexts and tasks.


###Discuss and exchange ideas on methods for making problem solving processes explicit in e-learning, and/or ways to teach metacognitive skills.

I don’t know if any of you have taken 613 Instructional Strategies, but there is an entire area of instructional strategies that are related to metacognition. There are four major areas of instructional strategies and metacognition is one. Dr. Dempsey (2014) stated, " It is planning how to learn, monitoring how well the strategy is working for you, and modifying it or using another strategy if necessary." A great strategy that I picked up in this class and that can work in an online setting is the SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review). In this strategy, first you preview the material. Then, you you predict what the professor might ask. After this, you read short sections of the text, recite the important information and then review it in some way- maybe by taking notes. In on online class, the professor could use this strategy as a way to break down complex readings.

###If you can, give an example on a success or failure that you’ve had while teaching problem solving skills. I teach middle school students. They have lost their brains. Problem solving is a VERY laborious task for them. They are not use to having to really work through complex authentic problems. So, I gave an assignment where the students had to summarize a story, while applying the comma rules correctly. I gave them a list of rules and they had to accommodate their writing to the rules. I had to teach them how to think about what they wanted to say and then shape that idea to fit the comma rule. They often don’t want to take the time to think through the entire process. This assignment was a hit and miss assignment. Some kids did really well at it, while other seriously struggled.

Dempsey, J. (2014) Metacognition. lecture notes.


I absolutely think that the customer service agent would benefit. Part of customer service skills is knowing how to react to a customer, de-escalating situations. Technology could give practice scenarios not experienced in large group orientations. (I spent much of my teenage years in retail.:slight_smile: )


This chapter was pretty interesting. Problem solving is such an important aspect of leanring. Mastering this helps students and professionals grasp and master many other disciplines. For most jobs, an employee must have a decent ability to problem-solve, otherwise, they end up incessantly asking their colleagues questions, ultimately leading to a lack of productivity.

In order to make problem solving processes explicit in e-learning for training OTJ, an instructional designer could incorporate models that verbally say or have written on-screen, the processes an example model goes through to finish a task. This could be used easily in many fields. I currently work retail part-time. In this role, customers may need many things. For training purposes, a program could be created that watched the interaction of associate and customer with a problem/issue/question. The program could pause to ask the trainee how they think the issue should be handled before proceeding. It could be designed so that there are different options and each option will take the trainee down a different path of either solving the problem, making it worse or not solving it at all while being provided expert feedback.

Being provided options of how to handle this task will force the trainee to engage their metacognitive thinking skills and process the decisions they choose. These processes are made explicit as the trainee progresses in helping the customer.


###Discuss and exchange ideas on methods for making problem solving processes explicit in e-learning, and/or ways to teach metacognitive skills. C&M discussed the need to promote learner reflection on their own thinking processes. The text gave clear examples of e-learning by using the thought bubble, so the learner can see the expert think explicitly. I think modeling worked examples which the instructor demonstrates the thinking procedures behind them is an excellent way to teach problem solving strategies. One way that I teach solving math work problems in my classroom is by presenting a worked example along with a story scenario about the problem; then I ask the students to figure out if the character in the scenario solved the word problem correctly or not and ask them to explain why. ###If you can, give an example on a success or failure that you’ve had while teaching problem solving skills. I work with students who have special needs. One of my students has cerebral palsy. I have worked with him for a few years. There are a lot of activities that he is able to do independently: walking without canes or a walker, carrying his lunch tray, opening milk bottles, using the bathroom without supports; etc.

He pays attention to details, listens, asks questions, and models well.
So, problem solving skills has been an area of success. One of the strategies that I use is to model by voicing aloud the steps. Another strategy is to check answers to computation problems with a calculator and try to figure out why the answer is not correct.

While working in a cooperative group, this particular student explained the rationale behind choosing, for example, a particular electrical circuit versus another and why. Another student could not explained it and required directive training with a lot of feedback and teaching by show and do using electrical wire, battery, and a switch.

The same student, during a recent group activity, was able to reflect and articulate how to create a roll-a-coaster using flex tube and a marble. He demonstrated task-specific creative thinking skills. He just needs a different approach: hands on learning.


I am planning to take 613 this summer. Thank you for sharing the strategy. I take notes and recite important information, however, I need to start predicting what the professor might ask.

I like that procedure. Sometimes learners need to be force to use critical thinking skills and troubleshoot by using multiple approaches without overloading them because they are giving expert feedback.

First of all, thank you for sharing your success story about your son “surviving college.” Yes! seeing individuals make small gains is awesome!

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Absolutely! It is important in even our most basic activities of daily living which is a challenge for lots of the individuals I work with. I also enjoyed this chapter too.


I agree with you and I also believe communication is very important. I actually overheard an instructor today saying when she gives a test she likes to have it graded and back to the students by the next time they meet. If I were an instructor I would do the same as her to ensure quick feedback on test results. Like you, my first thought was not e-learning.


I can absolutely relate to this struggle. My daughter was diagnosed 9 years ago and I dread the day she leaves for college in another year. Problem solving skills are not an area of strength for most ADHD children. As a teacher I see it all to often and the students try so hard. It requires much patients.

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###Discuss ways to teach metacognitive skills. I use metacognitive skills in my lessons. When I write my weekly lessons for math, I reflect on the struggles that previous students have had during that particular lesson. I try to identify where the struggles will begin before I even teach a lesson so that I can have a revision in place. C&M states that the important components of thinking involves ‘’planning, monitoring, and revising”. Those are the exact steps that I use as a teacher. Once the plan is made, I monitor the students either in a group setting, partner setting or individual setting. I have them to explain their processes to me so that we can identify if any revision is necessary. We compare answers to the questions to make sure they make ‘sense’. If one group is very confident in their correct answer, I try to pair them up with a group that has not been successful to allow peer interaction during the revision process. The students respond well to help from peers changing their approach to solving the problem.

##If you can, give an example on a success or failure that you’ve had while teaching problem solving skills

Problem solving skills are very difficult for some learners. They struggle with seeing how they are wrong. Multiplying with decimals is one example. Students have been taught how to multiply for 3 years before they get to me in 5th grade. They know the steps involved and they follow those steps. They have not had to make any changes to the answer in the past grades once all of the multiplication is completed, BUT now they have to. They are not just multiplying a whole number by a whole number anymore. They have to include tenths, hundredths and thousandths in their problem and their answer. They have to place a decimal in the answer so that it correlates with the problem. Does the answer make sense when all is done? Students just like to follow steps, getting them to stop and check that the answer makes sense is very difficult. I use grocery sale ads to help engage the students when working with decimals. It makes sense to them to use a decimal when working with money. They can see the difference if the decimal is in the wrong place and the total comes out too small or too big.


It is interesting to see how students are able to monitor each other and explain their reasoning to each other. The grocery sale ads is a great example!


I took Dempsey’s class and really enjoyed it. The chapter on metacognition was great. Helpful to really understanding and also applying it for self. I felt as though I really knew how to study after that class. The SQ3R is a great tool to utilize. A learner must put in the work to use it but it is worth it because you are taking the time to prepare for what you are learning and then learning it. Its awesome because you are able to gauge what you are about to read and answer you OWN questions which are pretty cool too. I think I attempted to use it for a chapter in his class after learning about it, but then got lazy. :sweat: It takes true effort to apply.


@AshleyBurton Ashley- This is a great observation. What you are describing here reminds me of case studies. It is giving the students a problem and having them assess it. This is a good strategy.