Students in computer lab

Self-awareness focus of international research

As part of an international collaboration, Albright Associate Professor of Psychology, Justin Couchman, Ph.D., and alumnus John Vasko ’15, now a clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Wyoming, have published a new study exploring confidence about taking exams within different cultures.

Already available online, “Metacognitive Monitoring in Test-taking Situations: A Cross-cultural Comparison of College Students” will appear in the print edition of the International Journal of Instruction, January 2020.

Students in computer lab

The collaboration involved psychology researchers in the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, in addition to the United States.

“We investigated whether students in different cultures had similar confidence during and after their exams,” explains Couchman. “And we found that American students overestimated their performance, while Emirati students underestimated theirs.”

Performance of students in Cyprus was more difficult to gauge, because — unlike their American counterparts — these students rarely engage in multiple-choice tests. But regardless of their cultural background, all of the students exhibited the ability to think about their own decision-making and regulate their own behavior.

“We found that when students were asked to specifically write down ratings of their confidence while taking the exams, they performed better than a control group,” explains Couchman. “This suggests that we could improve people’s self-awareness with relatively simple techniques.”

Couchman points out that developing the ability to be more self-aware also helps people confidently make important life decisions far removed from classroom exams. And unsurprisingly, decisiveness is often cited as a desirable career skill for employees and leaders.

“Metacognition and self-awareness are universal skills that everyone can practice,” says Couchman.

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