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Abstract

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.

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