Basis of Metacognition
Metacognitive Advantages of the MOO
The MOO-based Metacognitive Process
Examples of the Process
Discussion of the Annontated Logs
Let the Student Do the Reflecting
More important than reflection on the tutors' or teacher's comments is continued reflection on their own online voices. Notice, metacognition doesn't refer to a writer's knowledge of how her tutor writes or learns, it's her knowledge of how she learns. Therefore, tutors must let the writers do the majority of the talking online.
Writing center tutors and teachers usually understand the value of helping writers discover issues in their writing rather than simply telling them what their problems are. But when a MOO conference is logged and the student reads it later, it is even more important for her to witness herself coming to conclusions, dealing with issues, understanding concepts of discourse, and making decisions about her writing. While reading through the transcript, a well-intentioned tutor or teacher controlling the direction of a writer's learning can come across as a dictator, not a facilitator, of the learning for the student; such a figure is ultimately debilitating. However, when a writer reads herself as the director, leader, and final authority on the learning going on right there on the pages of the learning log, she can begin to see herself as the source of her own achievement, and she can reflect on what she is teaching herself. A tutor should push the writer toward talking about certain issues in her writing and ask probing questions that will lead the writer to talk about and discover points about her writing. But the tutor should then stop talking and let the writer take over phrasing and re-phrasing what she is learning, articulating the knowledge being transacted online. And when she reads the log later, she should witness herself speaking as the authority of her own learning and writing.
One MOO log that illustrates my failure to simply be quiet and let the student do more talking is Mindy's. Often in her conference, I instructed her on areas I thought she should work on rather than leading her to finding them herself. Mindy didn't write any annotations in the margins of the printed log; instead, she simply highlighted the portions of text of the log that seemed important to her. Not surprisingly, of her thirteen highlighted sections, eleven were my words. Though Mindy demonstrates some reflection while online with me, her log annotation proves to reflect more on my attempted teaching than on her accomplished learning.
"Keeping the hands off the keyboard" at the appropriate times should be a staple for online tutors and teachers, corresponding to "not holding a pen in hand" for face-to-face writing tutors. After a successful session, the MOO log reflects the student's achievement as a growing writer, plays back what the writer needs to accomplish with the individual writing assignment, testifies to the writer's ability to talk about her learning with another accomplished writer, and illustrates that the writer has maintained authority over her learning and writing processes. It should not simply feature a talkative tutor or teacher.
Incorporating Online and Offline Reflection into the Writing Process