Project Overview

Confusion as an Emotioned Metacognitive Experience: Implications for College Teaching and Learning

Faculty Sponsor

Allison Zengilowski (


Psychological and Brain Sciences


Confusion is a frequent and important experience accompanying the learning process, characterized as both affective and cognitive, and especially prevalent during complex learning. Building from qualitative research focusing on what learners decided to do when confused and what factors played a role in determining the path they took when experiencing confusion, students will have the opportunity to design new studies to expand research on confusion in three exciting directions:
  1. Students will investigate how we may quantitatively measure or test how factors (environment, individual, resource) impact the ways students move through confusion and their overall learning outcomes.
  2. Students will consider what methods are appropriate (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, mixed) and design a study to distinguish confusion from curiosity and uncertainty with college students.
  3. Students will engage in the design of a qualitative or mixed methods study to consider effective ways of gathering data on how students perceive of and experience confusion in different disciplines (STEM, social science, humanities).
Each student will take the lead on one project, serving in supporting roles on the others. Summer work will be focused on study design with the intention of collecting data in the fall.

Student Qualifications

Number of Student Researchers

3 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 10/03/2023 and close on 02/28/2024

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (