As a Cognitive Psychologist with a Learning Sciences background, the goal of my
research is to make education more equitable by preparing students from various backgrounds to
engage in robust learning. To achieve this goal, my work centers around metacognition and
motivation. I focus on these two constructs as they are at the core of self-regulated learning;
students require both the metacognitive knowledge and skills to effectively learn as well as the
motivation to engage in learning. These complementary constructs can be particularly powerful
during instances of "failure" or struggle. Students' metacognitive knowledge and skills equip
them with ways to improve learning and performance and enable them to recognize when they
are not effectively learning. The way students think about their abilities and motives also has a
direct impact on their learning trajectories through their persistence and effort. To explore how to
foster and measure each construct and understand their relation to each other and self-regulated
learning, I use a variety of methods (laboratory studies, classroom interventions and
observations) and perspectives (Cognitive, Social, Educational Psychology).
Metacognition and Motivation in Self-Regulated Learning
A deep interest of mine is evaluating theories of self-regulated learning in which metacognition is hypothesized
have a relationship with motivation. What motivates a student to learn? Does having knowledge about their cognition
and the skills to regulate their knowledge enable them to be more motivated? In my work, I seek to answer these questions
and specifically focus on self-efficacy (confidence in one's abilities), achievement goals (reasons for engaging in a task)
and recently I have started examining grit (perseverance of effort and interest in a long-term goals and motiviational strategies).
For instance, we found that metacognitive intervention integrated within two middle school classrooms resulted in higher
endorsements of several types of motivation and higher learning performance on a conceptual assessment and novel learning
task in comparison to a control condition (Zepeda, Richey, Ronevich, & Nokes-Malach, 2015). Students in the
intervention group also guessed less during a novel learning task. This work suggests that student knowledge and practice
of metacognitive skills plays a critical role in several aspects of self-regulated learning.
Metacognitive Supports in Discourse
In a related strand, my research also examines whether specific types of metacognitive supports promote specific aspects of learning.
If we can determine which types of metacognitive supports are more critical to certain aspects of learning, then we can improve current
methods of instruction. To begin investigating this question, I developed a metacognitive support framework which contains two dimensions,
the metacognitive component consisting of the type of metacognitive knowledge and skill, and the delivery component which consists of the
different types of manners and frames. In my prior work, I found that researcher-led intervention result in benefits to learning
(Zepeda et al., 2015), but does naturally occurring metacognitive supports present in teacher talk relate to
increased performance on conceptual learning? Findings from an observational study revealed that they are positively related
(Zepeda et al., 2019). More specifically, classrooms with higher learning growth on a conceptual assessment
had more teacher talk supporting personal metacognitive knowledge (e.g., being able to determine what you do and do not know).
Applying Cognitive Principles (that implicitly support student use of metacognition) to Instruction
I also examine the application of other cognitive principles to instructional interventions. Using instructional techniques such as prompting self-explanation,
analogical comparison, or retrieval practice provide opportunities for students to engage in metacognition. In a series of classroom experiments, we compared
the effect of learning how to spell words with retrieval practice versus rewriting the words (Jones, Wardlow, Pan, Zepeda, Heyman, Dunlosky, & Rickard, 2015).
Second and third graders not only learned better with retrieval practice, but the students tended to like and think they learned how to spell more effectively
with retrieval practice versus rewriting. In a laboratory study with undergraduates, higher use of self-explanation while learning from worked examples was
associated with better transfer performance whereas higher use of analogical comparison was associated with worse learning performance (Richey, Zepeda, & Nokes-Malach, 2015).
This work highlights that different instructional processes encourage students to engage in different levels of learning and transfer.
Investigating the Measures of Metacognitive, Cognitive, and Motivational Constructs
In my research, I use a variety of metacognitive and motivational measures (Likert-scale items, open-ended questions, behavioral data from the
course management system, classroom observations) to obtain a more complete picture of how these constructs function. Across the different studies,
there tends to be a disconnect between metacognitive Likert-scale questionnaires and other metacognitive measures (e.g., metacognitive judgements, open-ended questions)
(Zepeda et al., 2015; Zepeda & Nokes-Malach, 2017; Zepeda & Nokes-Malach, revise and resubmit). In related work, we found a disconnect between self-explanation and analogical
comparison self-reports and verbal protocols (Zepeda, & Nokes-Malach, 2015). In a different investigation that examined the effect of self-explanation and analogical
manipulations, we also found a disconnect between self-report measures and condition assignment (Richey, Zepeda, & Nokes-Malach, 2015). These findings raise questions
about the validity of some self-report measures and highlight the need to have multiple converging measures to understand a phenomenon.
To inform my research, I integrate a variety of perspectives and methodological approaches. Through invigorating collaborations, I have had the
opportunity to exchange ideas with researchers from different psychological perspectives (Developmental, Educational, Social), teachers, and
researchers from outside of the Psychology in Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. These experiences have allowed me to improve my collaborative
skills and project management techniques while also resulting in new ideas and directions. I believe that integrating different perspectives
and approaches is critical to informing science and developing applications of my work. I look forward to incorporating an interdisciplinary
perspective in my work through collaborations with faculty and students.
Zepeda, C. D.
, *Hlutkowsky, C. O., *Partika, A. C., & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2019). Identifying teachers' supports of metacognition through classroom talk and its relation to growth in conceptual learning. Journal of Educational Psychology.
Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000300
Zepeda, C. D.
, Richey, J. E., Ronevich, P., & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2015). Direct instruction of metacognition benefits adolescent science learning, transfer, and motivation: An in-vivo study.
Journal of Educational Psychology
, 107(4), 954-970. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000022 PDF
Jones, A. C., Wardlow, L., Pan, S. C., Zepeda, C.
, Heyman, G. D., Dunlosky, J., & Rickard, T. C. (2015). Beyond the rainbow: Retrieval practice leads to better spelling than does rainbow writing.
Educational Psychology Review
, 1-16. doi: 10.1007/s10648-015-9330-6 Link to article
Richey, J. E., Zepeda, C. D.
, & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2015).
Transfer effects of prompted and self-reported analogical comparison and self-explanation.
In D. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1985-1990). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. PDF
Relevant Conference Presentations
Zepeda, C. D.
, & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2018, November). Investigating the Relations between Metacognitive Study Strategies and Exam Performance in a College Course. Poster presented at the
59th annual meeting of Psychonomic Society: New Orleans, LA.
Zepeda, C. D.
, & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2017, October). Metacognitive awareness: The type of retrospective questions matters
. Poster submitted to the 58th annual meeting of Psychonomic Society: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. PDF
Zepeda, C. D.
, Hlutkowsy, C. O.*, Partika, A. C.*, & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2016, April). Identifying teachers' supports of metacognition in the classroom
. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association: Washington D.C.
, & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2015, July). Capturing the relations between metacognition, self-explanation, and analogical comparison: An exploration of two methodologies
. Poster presented at the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Pasadena, CA. PDF
Ferrara, A. M.*, Zepeda, C.
, & Nokes-Malach, T. J. (2014, July). Investigating the relationship between mindfulness and learning
. Poster presented at the Thirty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Quebec City, Canada. PDF
Relevant Local Presentations
Nokes-Malach, T. J., Zepeda, C. D.
, Boden, K., & Barstow, B. (2017, June). Flipping the script: Innovating large lectures with principles from cognitive science - Assessment and reflection.
Presented at the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
* Denotes an undergraduate advisee