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Illinois Research and Scholarship (Open Collection)




Students’ success in undergraduate STEM courses requires effective study strategies, but also the motivation to enact them, drawing on two key tenets of Self-Regulated Learning. Interventions designed to promote students’ achievement and retention in STEM have commonly focused on either cognition or motivation. Building on Pintrich’s (2000) SRL framework, we iteratively-developed and tested the effect of different combinations of one of four cognition-focused with one of three motivation-focused intervention modules. Initial development took place in 2015-2016 and post-iterative experiments occurred in 2017. Participants were 3,092 undergraduate introductory biology students tested in 10 studies at 3 universities over 4 academic years. They were randomly assigned to either a no-treatment control condition or one of 17 conditions involving either a cognition, motivation, or a combined cognition and motivation intervention module, that was delivered via the Internet over the course of an entire semester. Course grades were provided by the instructor. We used a meta-analysis to capture the overall effect of students’ access to the interventions on grades, and to test whether differences across experiments such as fall versus spring implementation changed the effect size for the interventions. Averaging across all 10 studies, the combined intervention had an effect of g = .30. All 10 moderators were significant: cognitive+motivational versus either one alone, timely access to the intervention, iterative development phase, type of cognitive or type of motivation module, the specific cognitive-motivation combination, university, academic year, semester, first versus second semester of biology, and course content. We conclude that interventions based in SRL theory and delivered online can meaningfully improve undergraduate students’ course grades (corresponding to 6.6 percentage points on final course grade), with minimal extra work for instructors. However, these effects were dependent on a variety of contextual factors.


© 2019 The Authors.

Included with the kind written permission of the author.


The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A140602 to Temple University.

Original Publication Citation

Cromley, J. G., Perez, T., Kaplan, A., Dai, T., Mara, K., & Balsai, M. J. (2019). Combined SRL-based cognitive-motivational modules increase undergraduate biology grades [Unpublished manuscript]. College of Education and Human Development, Temple University.


0000-0002-2008-2555 (Perez)