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Metacognition and Writing in the Large Lecture


Professor Elspeth Dusinberre, Classics Department


How might we leverage writing as a mechanism to foster multiple, progressive opportunities for metacognition, without adding significantly to the course’s grading burden?


Professor Dusinberre has been teaching CLAS 1509: Trash and Treasure, Temples and Tombs for about 20 years on campus. The course is a large lecture that relies heavily on writing assignments to develop students’ metacognitive and critical thinking skills. About 300 students take it each time it’s offered, mostly first-years and sophomores, and an army of TAs is required to handle the grading load. Professor Dusinberre wanted to explore opportunities to increase student metacognition without adding too much to the already heavy TA workload.



Professor Dusinberre and members of the Academic Technology Design Team.



Participants asked Professor Dusinberre clarifying questions to better understand the course and the problems to be solved. After that, all participants spent time generating ideas for potential solutions and writing them on post-its.


Members of the ATDT shared all post-its and organized them into themes and topics, reviewing them for the larger group.

Small Group Prototyping

Professor Dusinberre selected two ideas to prototype further: exam wrappers and peer review. The team broke into groups and outlined plans for piloting each idea in the upcoming course.


Professor Dusinberre was very pleased with all ideas generated during the challenge, as well as the two more specific prototyped plans. She decided to pilot both prototypes in her Fall 2018 Trash and Treasure course. The ATDT is helping her build exam wrappers after each of her written take-home exams, as well as a peer-reviewed assignment utilizing functionality in Canvas Learning Management System.