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Education Research International
Volume 2012, Article ID 319463, 10 pages
Research Article

Writing about the Personal Utility of Learning Contents in a Learning Journal Improves Learning Motivation and Comprehension

Department of Educational Science, University of Freiburg, Rempart Straße 11, D-79098 Freiburg, Germany

Received 30 May 2012; Revised 17 September 2012; Accepted 8 November 2012

Academic Editor: Susanne Narciss

Copyright © 2012 Kristin Schmidt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reflecting on the personal utility and value of learning contents is important for motivation building and engagement in high quality learning processes. We investigated the effects of a personal-utility prompt in journal writing on students’ learning motivation and comprehension in biology education. 40 students of a German secondary school took part in a quasi-experimental field study. The students kept a weekly learning journal over six weeks. For writing their journal entries, the students received a brief instruction that either did or did not include a personal-utility prompt. Results showed that the personal-utility prompt successfully supported the students in reflecting about the personal utility of the learning contents. Consequently, students in the personal-utility prompt condition reported higher degrees of learning motivation and achieved better comprehension scores as compared to students who had no personal-utility prompt available. Evidently, using journal writing to reflect upon the utility and value of learning contents is a beneficial method to support students’ learning motivation and comprehension in secondary science education.