Motivation Strategies and Exiting Class by Students in Inquiry-Oriented Biology Labs


  • John M. Basey University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Clinton D. Francis California Polytechnic University
  • Maxwell B. Joseph University of Colorado at Boulder



inquiry, biology-lab, self-regulation, time-target, time-allocation


Experimental inquiry-oriented science labs can be designed to have students regulate their own learning and decide when they leave class or to have the teacher regulate student learning and determine when they leave class. In this study, grades were examined relative to student exit times in a student-regulated class design. Preliminary interviews revealed four motivation strategies likely to differentially influence exit times and grades: proficiency, grade-target-A, grade-target-C, and time-limited. Students were categorized into the four groups of motivation strategies with a survey. Twenty teaching assistants teaching three lab sections each taught the stand-alone lab class. Students recorded the time they left class each week. Grades were determined as the overall percentage of points a student received in class. Results of the survey showed that the four motivation strategies were well represented in the student population, and two additional strategies were also frequently seen: a hybrid-1 between proficiency and grade-target-A, and a hybrid-2 between time-limited and grade-target-C. Grades were significantly higher for grade-target-A and hybrid-1 students, followed by time-limited, proficiency, grade-target-C, and hybrid 2. Time spent in class was not significantly different among categories. Students who chose to stay in class longer had significantly higher grades. If a grade is the goal, these results support the idea of a teacher-controlled exit time for the students in these inquiry-oriented labs. Implications are discussed.


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Author Biographies

John M. Basey, University of Colorado at Boulder

John M. Basey is a senior instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA).

Clinton D. Francis, California Polytechnic University

Clinton D. Francis is an associate professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (USA).

Maxwell B. Joseph, University of Colorado at Boulder

Maxwell B. Joseph is an analytics hub data scientist for the Earth Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA).


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How to Cite

Basey, John M., Clinton D. Francis, and Maxwell B. Joseph. 2020. “Motivation Strategies and Exiting Class by Students in Inquiry-Oriented Biology Labs”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 8 (2):128-39.