The constructivist theory of learning has important implication on the teaching-learning process in the classroom. It is common that most science education focus on the scientific learning of the learners rather than the growth of learners’ knowledge as holistic individual (Taber, 2006). Using the constructivist theory of learning encourages the students to reflect their own knowledge which is important in the learning process (Bodner, 1986). The meaningful learning environment can be created if the students can relate their preexisting knowledge with the concepts that they have received (Novak & Gowin as cited in Bodner, 1986).
As a teacher, I had experiences related to apply constructivist theory to cope with students’ misunderstanding. There are common researches about misconceptions and students’ understanding in chemistry, because it was a real problem in teaching and learning chemistry. One constructivist theory that I applied is metacognitive skills to help students to understand the concepts. One of strategies which can improve students’ understanding is metacognitive skills. Metacognitive skills allow students to understand their thinking process and concepts (Wellman, 1983 as cited in Pressley, Mac Kinno,& Waller, 1985). Most studies of students’ understanding stated solutions through the use of meaningful learning experiences (Rickey & Stacy, 2000; Treagust, Chittleborough, & Mamiala, 2004). Metacognition gives meaningful learning for students because “metacognition involves, among other things, taking responsibility for own’s learning process” (Anderson Nashon, 2006, p.299). “In metacognition classrooms, learners are expected to ask questions about where they went wrong and to tell the teacher when they don’t understand” (Parkinson, 2004, p.99). Metacognitive skill is important in learning and teaching because awareness one’s thought is important for developing an understanding of ideas and awareness and control of thinking. That has been shown the control of thinking have a significant impact on problem solving success. Therefore, metacognitive skills are important to understanding the ideas and give significant impact on problem solving in chemistry (Rickey, & Stacy, 2000).
According to Winn & Snyder (1998), metacognition process is devided into three steps: monitoring progress in learning, making changes and adapting learning strategies to get the best achievement. Throughout this process, students could do the self-reflection, and self-responsibility within their learning process. According to Flavell, (1979) as cited in Achacoso (2005), metacognition consists of both metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive experiences which related to the self awareness. Therefore, metacognition refers to learners’ automatic awareness of their own knowledge and their ability to understand, control, and manipulate their own cognitive processes. As a result, metacognitive skills are also important in individuals lives, because of they apply the self reflection to solve the problems which is powerful to individual’s empowerment.
There are several instructional tools for promoting metacognition in the classroom which is important to improve the conceptual understanding and problem solving abilities of students to learn chemistry. Some instructional tools which are used in science classroom are concept maps, concept tests, Predict-Observe-Explain (POE) tasks, and the Model-Observe-Reflect-Explain (MORE) thinking frame (Rickey, & Stacy, 2000). The concept map is collection of the concepts links which help student demonstrate their understanding on the relationship between the concepts. Moreover, the concepts tests are constructed to expose students’ view within the concepts throughout the peer discussion. On the other hand, the Predict-Observe-Explain (POE) tasks used to assess students’ understanding of classical mechanic which allow students to make predictions about an event and explain the reasons for their predictions. This POE tasks have been successful in promoting conceptual change in physics (Rickey, & Stacy, 2000). The Model-Observe-Reflect-Explain (MORE) is an adaptation of POE task which provide students with a framework to guide their thinking. The students allow reflecting on the implications of their observations for their model and revising their ideas. According to Rickey, & Stacy, (2000), MORE thinking frame not only develops significantly students’ abilities in metacognition but also help students to understand the fundamental of chemistry concepts, and ability to solve the problems