Short Author Bio(s)

Dr. Janssen is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). She teaches courses in statistics, research methods, family, childhood, introductory sociology, and introductory criminology. She has a strong interest in understanding and applying technology in teaching, particularly as a means to transform large lecture courses. She has won several teaching awards. Her research interests include family and women's issues, youth and adolescence, and teaching strategies for technical courses such as research methods.

Dr. O’Brien is a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) where she have been teaching undergraduates since completing her Ph.D. at West Virginia University. In her 30 years at UMD, She taught a wide variety of courses, including statistics, microeconomics, labor economics, and History of Economic Thought. Her interest in SoTL involves assessing the effectiveness of classroom innovations. Her current research also involves investigating the relationship between social capital and issues in labor economics.


The interplay among motivation, ability, attitudes, behaviors, homework, and learning is unclear from previous research. We analyze data collected from 687 students enrolled in seven economics courses. A model explaining homework and exam scores is estimated, and separate analyses of ability and motivation groups are conducted. We find that motivation and ability explain variation in both homework and exam scores. Attitudes and behaviors, such as procrastination and working with others directly, affect homework score, but not exam score. These effects are not the same within all motivation and ability groups. Given that homework is the strongest predictor of exam score, we conclude that graded homework is beneficial to learning, and attitudes and behaviors related to homework may have an indirect benefit for exam performance. Suggestions are made as to how homework and course design might be managed to help students at different ability and motivational levels maximize learning.