Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Dr. Eric Anctil

Second Advisor

Dr. Deirdre Hon

Third Advisor

Dr. Julie Kalnin

LC Subjects

Comparative studies; Cognitive learning; Curriculum planning--United States; First-generation college students; Metacognition; Thought and thinking--Study and teaching;


This mixed-methods case study investigated changes to first year, first-generation (FYFG) college students’ visual thinking and learning while enrolled in a 15-week academic success course (ASC) with a focus on meta-learning. The researcher found that a 5-week metalearning intervention within the ASC helped six focal participants enact changes to support their visual thinking and learning processes. Focal and class participants integrated a number of metacognitive strategies into their learning, such as writing notes in their own words (e.g., voice), monitoring their understanding, drawing ideas in their notes, and visualizing new ideas to support their learning. As focal participants applied these strategies more over the course of the semester they began to develop metacognitive knowledge and skills for their learning. As a result, focal participants learned about themselves as visual thinkers and learners, specifically how they learned best. Six ‘changes’ are discussed as well as participants reports of improved academic performance and learning, feelings of empowerment, confidence, and control over their learning. Additionally, class participants saw a significant increase in metacognitive awareness, and 21 of 24 class participants reported positive metacognitive gains as measured by the metacognitive awareness inventory (MAI). Considerations are given to integrating metacognitive and meta-learning objectives into traditional curriculum as well as developing first-year interventions that support first-generation students’ academic success and life-long learning capabilities.


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