Science faculty explore students' understanding of their own science knowledge

July 22, 2015

MCKEESPORT, Pa. -- "Do students know what they know?" is the question posed in research recently published by Beth Lindsey, assistant professor of physics, and Megan Nagel, assistant professor of chemistry, both at Penn State Greater Allegheny.

According to Lindsey, the research examines the ability of introductory science students to evaluate which questions they will be able to answer correctly on a test.

The overall results showed the tendency, known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, for low-performing students to overestimate how well they will do. This phenomenon can be a barrier to improving student performance.

An analysis of responses to individual questions, however, also showed that all students had difficulty distinguishing questions that they could answer from those they could not.

The ability of students to reflect upon their cognitive performance is known as metacognition.

The paper was marked as an "Editor's Suggestion" indicating that editors and referees found it to be "of particular interest, importance, or clarity."

"Do students know what they know? Exploring the accuracy of students’ self-assessments" was published in Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research in July 2015.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 22, 2015