From the Literature

We will periodically highlight an article or other resource that proposes methods for using metaliteracy in practice, or the theory connected with metaliteracy. This initial From the Literature post brings to your attention a 2021 article by Kristen Schuster and Kristine N, Stewart, “Using Constructive Alignment to Support Metaliteracy,” published in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science.

This article provides a case study that allows the authors to highlight key pedagogical suggestions and insights that have the potential to impact teaching and learning. The course that is the subject of the study focuses on XML and theories of knowledge organization in which many international postgraduate students were enrolled. Schuster and Stewart examine course assessment-related components and how metaliteracy, particularly metacognition, may be integrated to enhance student success. The pedagogical elements that they raise might be used in a wide variety of courses to meet the same goal of student success.

The authors consider the interplay between metaliteracy, constructive alignment, and learning-oriented assessments. They define constructive alignment as “a model of curriculum design in which teaching/learning activities and assessment tasks are systematically aligned” (p. 4) with the learning outcomes that an instructor has identified. Learning oriented assessment (LOA) supports the use of a range of assessment types that provide learners with “regular and applicable feedback” (p. 5) and that lends itself to instructors and students co-constructing assessments and feedback mechanisms.

Schuster and Stewart write,

This process of co-construction offers opportunities to scaffold curriculum and encourage students to actively acquire, transfer, and enhance their understanding(s) of the abilities and theories taught during a module. This approach shifts students’ focus away from performing certain study abilities and shifts it toward measuring their success against abstract frameworks for success. (p. 5)

They continue, drawing together constructive alignment and LOA with metaliteracy,

This shift has the potential to empower them to collaboratively and dynamically use curricular content to actively integrate their knowledge and experiences into teaching and assessment frameworks. This, in turn, enhances the types of work and feedback students are willing to engage in and has the potential to expand their metaliteracy practices beause they are able to synthesize new, taught abilities with their pre-existing skills. (p. 5)

Schuster and Stewart were working with international and English as a Foreign Language students during the fall 2017 and spring 2019 semesters. Toward the end of their article, they discuss how the course instructor used metaliteracy to make significant revisions to the course, including assessments, lectures, and seminar activities (p. 5).

The assessment techniques and strategies that the authors outline are transferable to a wide range of courses. Their insight that led to the incorporation of metaliteracy is noted in one in the Key Points they highlight on the first page of the article, “Metaliteracy can be adapted and used to develop innovative forms of assessment” (p.1).

We encourage you to read this important article, as this brief overview can not hope to capture the full impact of the authors’ work.


Schuster, Kristen, and Kristine N. Stewart. 2021. ‘Using Constructive Alignment to Support Metaliteracy in International Classrooms’. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 62 (1): 1–16.