Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date




Publication Title

2017 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association


14 pp.

Conference Name

2017 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, April 28th, 2017, San Antonio, Texas


Whereas relevance-writing interventions have shown effects on students’ achievement, a persistent finding is that interventions benefit students with low, but not high, outcome expectancies—a phenomenon that Schwartz et al. (2016) termed the half empty question. In the current mixed-methods study, we investigated the role of undergraduate students’ patterns of engagement in a relevance-writing intervention and their relations to biology course achievement. Ninety-six students who were administered four relevance writing assignments were found to manifest two patterns: Students who completed at least 50% of the intervention in a timely manner outperformed those who completed less-then-50% or completed it late, regardless of their pre-intervention motivation. A closer look into individual students’ patterns showed diverse perceptions about the relevance-writing tasks.


© 2017 The Authors.

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Original Publication Citation

Dai, T., Kaplan, A., Wang, Y., Cromley, J. G., Perez, T., Mara, K. R., & Balsai, M. (2017, April). Pursuing the "half empty question": Biology undergraduates' differential engagement in a brief relevance writing intervention [Paper presentation]. Paper presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Antonio, Texas.


0000-0002-2008-2555 (Perez)