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Moving the Needle: Evidence of an Effective Study Strategy Intervention in a Community College Biology Course


Many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) community college students do not complete their degree, and these students are more likely to be women or in historically excluded racial or ethnic groups. In introductory courses, low grades can trigger this exodus. Implementation of high-impact study strategies could lead to increased academic performance and retention. The examination of study strategies rarely occurs at the community college level, even though community colleges educate approximately half of all STEM students in the United States who earn a bachelor's degree. To fill this research gap, we studied students in two biology courses at a Hispanic-serving community college. Students were asked their most commonly used study strategies at the start and end of the semester. They were given a presentation on study skills toward the beginning of the semester and asked to self-assess their study strategies for each exam. We observed a significantly higher course grade for students who reported spacing their studying and creating drawings when controlling for demographic factors, and usage of these strategies increased by the end of the semester. We conclude that high-impact study strategies can be taught to students in community college biology courses and result in higher course performance.

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