Canning et al., 2017: Explaining why course content is relevant to their or others' lives improved course grades, more likely to enroll to next biology course and to continue their STEM major among biology students
Asking students in an introduction biology course to reflect either on why “specific [course content] is relevant to your life or useful for you” or on how the material could be “relevant to [another] person’s life, or useful for this person” several times over the semester earned higher course grades, were more likely to enroll in the second course of the biology sequence, and more likely to stay with their STEM major than students in a randomized controlled condition. Timing (0, 1, 2 or 3 assignments) and dosage (utility value first or control exercise first) was also randomized. The overall benefits were found for students who completed any utility-value exercise. Dosage did not predict treatment effects. But benefits were greater for students with a history of poor performance who completed an exercise early in the term. By contrast, higher-performing students benefited more from an exercise later.