Student Achievement in an Introductory Biology Course: Assessing Grade Motivation and Study Log Metacognition
As college educators, our main teaching goals are to increase student learning and improve student retention. This study describes how 54 science majors at a public, minority serv- ing institution reflected on their study time, study activities, and overall grade motivation in a core-curriculum introduc- tory biology course. Since 2005, less than 50% of students enrolled in this course at our university earned a final grade of “C” or better. In the Fall semester of 2009, we adminis- tered a pre and post assessment using the Science Motivation Questionnaire (SMQ) a 30-item Likert-type instrument devel- oped by Glynn and Koballa (2006) to better understand and address the student attrition from the introductory biology course. All 30 items from the SMQ were analyzed, but only
5 items relevant to grade motivation are presented in this paper. We also designed and implemented a weekly study log assessment tool for students to document their study time and study activities, wherein students submitted their study logs on a weekly basis during the course of this research study. Based on the number of study logs submitted and study time by each student, students were classified into ei- ther a high-metacognition or low-metacognition group. For our purposes, we defined metacognition as the awareness of one’s own thinking process (Merriam-Webster, 2012). The high-metacognition group submitted 75% of their study logs and earned a grade in the top 25% of the class. The low- metacognition group submitted only 25% of their study logs and earned a grade in the bottom 25% of the class. Thus both groups formed reasonable expectations for their overall class performance.