Journal of Research in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education

Which course resources and student approaches to learning are related to higher grades in introductory biology?

Journal of Research in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, Volume 6, Issue 3, September 2023, pp. 175-196
OPEN ACCESS VIEWS: 518 DOWNLOADS: 386 Publication date: 15 Sep 2023
Undergraduate students in large enrollment gateway courses like introductory biology are often inundated with different study resources to enhance their success on course exams. A good performance on these exams as measured by course grades is a strong determinant of their downstream success in the biology major and ultimately retention in STEM fields. Previous studies have suggested best-practices like pre-class reading guides or Supplemental Instruction. However, many of these studies do not also corroborate student course outcomes with Student Approaches to Learning (SAL). We investigated the association between specific resources and how they correlated with higher exam grades. We further investigated the degree to which SAL also correlated with student outcomes. We collected data over a span of two years from a large introductory biology course (N= 307) from a southeastern university by using a post-semester resource questionnaire. This questionnaire asked the students to describe the study resources they had utilized during the course of the semester and further assessed SAL via the Revised Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F). Our results indicate that students who earned a higher overall grade in the course were significantly more likely to self-report higher attendance in optional peer-led Supplemental Instruction meetings and, unexpectedly, were less likely to use pre-class reading guides. These students were more likely to report finding course material interesting, whereas students with lower overall final grades were more likely to report trying to memorize course material. However, we also found that students with higher course grades and high previous college GPAs also reported using rote memorization. Given that the efficacy of resources can vary based on the student, we not only encourage the promotion of resources supported by empirical evidence, but also encourage a deeper understanding of the SAL which shapes resource use.
Introductory Biology, Undergraduate, Course resources, Performance, Student Approaches to Learning, Revised Study Process Questionnaire
Adkins, S., Brasfield, K., Tran, T., Morris, J. J., & Raut, S. (2023). Which course resources and student approaches to learning are related to higher grades in introductory biology?. Journal of Research in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 6(3), 175-196.
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