Utility value interventions in a college biology lab: The impact on motivation

Kevin W. Curry, Dan Spencer, Ondra Pesout, Kimberly Pigford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Science writing, such as lab reports, allows students to form a meaningful understanding of scientific concepts. However, students often view scientific writing as unimportant and utilize surface level approaches when completing writing assignments. The current study implemented three experimental interventions (directly-communicated, self-generated, and hybrid) aligned with prior literature and designed to improve the utility value of lab reports in college settings. Participants (n = 1,002) were recruited from 43 lab sections of an introductory biology course at a large southeastern university. Measures of subjective task value (utility value, attainment value, cost, and intrinsic value) were collected pre-, mid-, and post-intervention. The self-generated and hybrid groups exhibited higher self-reported utility value by posttest compared to the control group. Requiring students to generate their own utility value toward a task, followed by a written reflection, increases students' maintained and situational interest for biology laboratory reports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-252
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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