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Am J Pharm Educ. 2007 Feb 15;71(1):14.

Assessing students' metacognitive skills.

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  • 1University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, USA.



To develop a diagnostic test for assessing cognitive skills related to metacognition in a physiology course.


Cognitive skills believed to be related to metacognition (visualizing lecture information and interpreting diagrams) were identified in a first-professional year (P1) physiology course and test items were constructed for each. Analyses included overall reliability, item discrimination, and variance comparisons of 4 groups to assess the effect of prior physiology coursework and diagnostic test score level on the first examination in physiology.


Overall reliability was 0.83 (N = 78). Eighty percent of the test items discriminated positively. The average diagnostic test scores of students with or without a prior physiology course did not differ significantly. Students who scored above the class mean on the diagnostic test and who had taken a prior physiology course also had the highest average scores on the physiology examination.


The diagnostic test provided a measure of a limited number of skills related to metacognition, and preliminary data suggest that such skills are especially important in retaining information.

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