Discipline: Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
- Virginia State University
Co-Author(s): Toni Harris, Brian Sayre, Leslie Whiteman,John Fife and Cheryl Talley, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA
There is substantial evidence that the use of psychosocial academic interventions will result in improved student achievement (Dweck, Walton, & Cohen, 2014). In an effort to obtain a better understanding of this phenomenon, the current multi-study examines student psychosocial variables as predictors of student academic success, which was informed by the Expectancy-Value Model (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Specifically, the effectiveness of a psychosocial academic intervention is examined and the importance of students’ self-expectancy and task value for classroom achievement in STEM courses is explored. Researchers hypothesized that a psychosocial intervention tailored to increase factors of the Expectancy-Value Theory for STEM students would increase academic rates.
The intervention included a 2-credit prerequisite Biology professional development course and McGraw-Hill Education’s LearnSmart adaptive learning platform. Study participants were STEM majors taught in BIOL120 Principles of Biology I, a general biology course. All sections utilized the same syllabus, LearnSmart, online homework assessments, and online exam questions. However, Biology majors were required to take BIOL 130 Professional Practices, in which elements of the psychosocial intervention were delivered. The study compared students’ final grades, pass/fail rates of assignments, LearnSmart activity rates. Results found that the pass rates of biology majors increased 17% over the 3-year period compared to other STEM majors enrolled in the course. The results indicate that psychosocial academic intervention techniques that target mastery goal orientation and student academic efficacy, combined with the LearnSmart adaptive learning tool, can significantly increase student performance in an introductory general biology course. Due to indications, researchers further explore mastery and academic efficacy in persistent STEM students through assessing The Expectancy-Value Theory.
Participants then included two hundred forty-six African American male and female STEM college students. Student participants were given an assessment battery that assessed task value, self-handicapping, and expectancy for success. Analyses found that students’ expectancy for success was a significant predictor for final course grade in the sample. Additionally, it was found that high academic achievers are more likely to value classroom tasks and are less likely to use self-handicapping strategies in comparison to their counterparts. Results indicate that self-expectancy and task value are key factors for academic student success for African American STEM students. Additionally, it is confirmed that the development of mastery orientation and academic efficacy can help students perform at higher rates in STEM. Current research informs intervention efforts to effectively increase retention rates and African American representation in STEM.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation: Targeted Infusion Project: Using Evidence Based Programming to Inform a Living-Learning Community Award No: 1623262
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,