Implementing an Intervention in the Spelman College African Diaspora and the World Course

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Francesina R. Jackson
Jimmeka Guillory Wright
A. Nayena Blankson
Angelino Viceisza
Bruce Wade


This article describes an interdisciplinary team of researchers’ exploration of the impact of metacognitive instruction on first-year students enrolled in Spelman’s signature course—African Diaspora and the World (ADW). The two-phased, randomized controlled trial influenced administrators to increase the number of ADW sections, focused faculty discussions on pedagogy rather than content, emphasized the interdisciplinary perspective of the course, used a long-term developmental approach to professional development, and required all students to use ADW peer tutoring. The majority of faculty and students viewed these changes positively.


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Author Biographies

Francesina R. Jackson, First in the World (FITW) Project (retired)

Francesina R. Jackson, PhD, is the (retired) principal investigator of the First in the World (FITW) Project. She has served in a number of administrative positions in various colleges. Most recently, she directed the Student Success Program and chaired the Teacher Education Department at Spelman College. Her research focuses on study strategy effectiveness, metacognition, accreditation of teacher education programs and multiculturalism. She led several Fulbright-Hays study abroad programs in West Africa and the Caribbean for educators to study use of the arts to address social justice issues. Jackson has published in a number of professional journals such as the Journal of Reading, Reading, Research and Instruction and Multicultural Perspectives.

Jimmeka Guillory Wright, Spelman College

Jimmeka Guillory Wright, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Spelman College. Her research interests include the various levels of conscious experience associated with memory. Specifically, her research focuses on the persistence of misinformation in memory, metacognition, and student learning. She applies recent advances in cognitive science to education practice. Her research on metacognition in the classroom serves as the foundation for the FITW grant awarded to Spelman College by the Department of Education. Her publications are in several journals including the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in PsychologyApplied Cognitive Psychology and Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal.


A. Nayena Blankson, Spelman College

Nayena Blankson, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Spelman College. She is the primary statistician for the FITW project. Dr. Blankson’s research interests straddle both developmental and quantitative psychology. Her developmental research interests include the organization and development of cognitive abilities as it relates to personality, parenting, schooling, and early academic achievement. Her quantitative interests include psychometrics, multivariate methods, moderated mediation, the design of psychological research, and structural equation modeling. Dr. Blankson is the author of numerous peer reviewed articles, published in journals such as Child Development and the Journal of Educational Psychology. She has received grants from several different funding agencies to support her research and to support training of students in research.


Angelino Viceisza, Spelman College

Angelino Viceisza, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Economics at Spelman College and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He specializes in the fields of development and agricultural economics, experimental and behavioral economics, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Viceisza designed the FITW field-based randomized controlled trial conducted at Spelman. His research examines the microeconomics of poverty and wealth creation, particularly in developing countries. His research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Agricultural EconomicsEconomic InquiryExperimental Economics, the Journal of Development Economics, and Review of Behavioral Economics. A wide variety of agencies have supported his research.


Bruce Wade, Spelman College

Bruce Wade, PhD, was a professor in the Department of Sociology. He served Spelman College for 31 years and was the original statistician on the FITW Leadership team. Dr. Wade specialized in analyses of college student health attitudes and behaviors, the sociology of health, health care and wellness, research methodology and computer applications. Deeply involved in community research, education and evaluation research/consulting, he conducted seminars and training sessions in these areas across the state of Georgia.