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Metacognition & the Digital Learning Environment

Designing for Learning in the Virtual Learning Environment

Dr Emma O'Neill from the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, a UCD Fellow in Teaching and Academic Development, is working on a project looking at developing metacognitive skills in students, supported by the virtual learning environment.  Dr Crystal Fulton (UCD School of Information & Communication Studies), Dr James Matthews (UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Sports Science) and Dr Carmel Hensey (UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science) were also appointed as UCD Fellows in Teaching and Academic Development to undertake this multi-disciplinary research project, ‘Designing for Learning in the Virtual Learning Environment.’ The Fellowship programme, an initiative led by Professor Mark Rogers, UCD Registrar and Deputy President, focuses on areas of strategic importance to the University and is informed by a scholarly approach to the enhancement of teaching and learning.

The project explores metacognition, its importance for effective learning, and the potential afforded by the virtual learning environment (VLE) to support skill development in this area.  The project utilises features within Brightspace, UCD's VLE, such as checklists, quizzes with personalised feedback and the ability to incorporate peer feedback and has already been rolled out across three modules with a fourth running this year.

'All of us felt that, in current times, the last thing anyone needs is more information. What makes the difference is what a student does with that information. We wanted to be able to influence their ability to develop key skills, to be able to think critically and integrate information, and we felt that metacognition spoke to this most strongly,' notes Dr O’Neill.

Across these very different disciplines, the idea was to show how adaptable the framework is – and this seems to be a resounding success judging by student feedback both in terms of their improving metacognitive skills and their enthusiasm to embrace this style of blended learning that empowers by promoting self-regulation.

Further information on the project is available on the UCD Expertise website: 


The Academic Fellows have developed two videos to show how the framework operates, see below.

Contact the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine

UCD Veterinary Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
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