STEM Education Poetry


Gradually, factually,
Thinking re: thinking; 
These techniques provided
Prove useful routines.  
Learn how to learn: goal of
Metacognition; the
Framework resolved
That remains to be seen.

Back to the modified double dactyl structure for another non-Twitter poem: as I mentioned at the start of July, my plan for the next few months is to alternate my Twitter translations with chemistry-education-focused poems.  I would like to add an intentional focus on metacognition into this year’s General Chemistry coursework, and the first step is to define it, in that classroom space.  

Gradually, factually, / Thinking re: thinking; /
These techniques provided / Prove useful routines.  
After COVID-19 caused colleges to shift instruction online in Spring 2020, several social media groups and email lists compiled pedagogical resources.  In one such conversation, I was reminded of a wonderful book I had encountered in 2017: Teach Students How to Learn, written by Saundra Yancy McGuire with Stephanie McGuire.  As was the case with “Cubes, Eights, and Dots,” I wish I would have had this book as a student.  The authors clearly explain why learning science at the college level can be challenging; they also introduce several concrete strategies that students can implement immediately.  I have been revisiting their work in preparation for autumn.

Learn how to learn: goal of / Metacognition…
When I teach Gen Chem, it is always with an acknowledgement to myself that the content-area knowledge is not something that will truly last for most of the students enrolled; nor is it something that needs to. Many students are required to take the coursework, but for most, it is primarily content preparation for pre-professional exams, rather than the start of a lifelong endeavor.  An intentional emphasis on learning how to learn would be a welcome addition to the course, since such skills would be transferable into any future curricula and/or career paths!  

…The / Framework resolved / That remains to be seen.  
The poem’s close restates the iterative nature of learning, first highlighted in the “thinking re: thinking” phrasing above (which could easily be heard as “thinking; rethinking”).  A subject’s underlying framework– the bigger picture– is somewhat “resolved” via metacognition.  More accurately, though, that bigger picture is a puzzle that can be “re-solved” multiple times: acknowledging a learner’s expanding perspective each time in doing so, with more insights ever “remain[ing] to be seen.”