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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Biology and Microbiology

First Advisor

Volker Brozel


Current research supports the role of metacognitive strategies to enhance reading comprehension, yet there is little data to date on this topic in college science classes. The research question of this dissertation is: Does teaching metacognitive skills and active reading strategies in college introductory biology improve student success in biology? A pre- and post-survey design using validated surveys was used (α = 0.05). The surveys were: the Metacognitive Awareness in Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI), the Biology Attitude Scale (BAS), and ACT Reading Comprehension. In a majors introductory biology course (Chapter 2), three groups were evaluated: Group 1 with metacognition and reading lessons, a control Group 2 with only reading lessons, and a comparison Group 3 with neither of these lessons. Group 1 did not show a statistically significant improvement in metacognitive awareness compared to Group 2, indicating that the treatment was not effective. However, students with low to mid MARSI pre-scores showed a significant improvement in pre- to post-MARSI scores in all groups. All groups showed a significant improvement in reading comprehension and no statistical change in attitude towards biology. A second study (Chapter 3) measured the effectiveness of the delivery mode of metacognitive and active reading skills lessons to a face-to- face non-majors introductory biology course. Data showed a statistically significant improvement in both groups in metacognitive awareness and reading comprehension. No difference was detected between the online delivery of the study skills lesson versus face-to-face instruction for metacognitive awareness. For reading comprehension, no difference in gains was demonstrated, however, differences in pre- and post- test scores was measured. This study suggests that biology instructors can easily introduce effective metacognitive awareness and active reading lessons into their course, either through online or face-toface instruction. These studies indicate that the characteristics of non-majors and majors introductory classrooms are different. All students improve in reading comprehension regardless of treatment; however, attitudes and metacognitive awareness differed between the non-majors and majors. In both studies, multiple regression showed that High school GPA and ACT Composite scores strongly contributed to course grade, while attitude towards biology had a weak correlation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biology -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Reading comprehension.
College students -- Attitudes.


Includes bibliographical references.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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