Mindsets and the Learning Environment Research Portfolio

The Mindset Scholars Network has launched a new interdisciplinary initiative to explore how learning environments shape the mindsets students develop about learning and school. The project’s aim is to rapidly generate scientific evidence about how educators at all levels can convey messages to students that they can grow their ability, that they belong and are valued at school, and that what they are doing in school matters.

The eight project teams will conclude their analyses in the fall of 2017, and the network will release the major findings from the projects in the winter of 2017-18.

FUNDERS
The total amount of funding awarded was nearly $550,000. The Raikes Foundation provided initial funding for the project and other funders are expected to provide additional support in the coming months.

PROJECTS & TEAM MEMBERS
The network is currently funding eight projects, which include 14 different network scholars and over a dozen external collaborators. The projects span a wide range of topics, from exploring how teacher practices cultivate learning mindsets and identity safety in K-12 classrooms, to the role of new developmental course models in fostering learning mindsets in post-secondary settings.

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Stephen Hutt, Margo Gardner, Parker Goyer, Donald Kamentz Chad Spurgeon, Lauri Bonacorsi

TEAM DISCPILINES:
Computer Science, Psychology, Human Development, Education

DATASET:
Common App & National Student Clearinghouse, (~800K students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • Which mindset-related factors gleaned from student biographical data (e.g., extracurriculars, work experience) best predict college success?
  • How do students’ learning environments in high school influence the mindset-related factors that predict college success?

TEAM DISCPILINES:
Economics, Psychology, Education

DATASET:
California CORE Districts (~500K students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • How does school climate affect students’ social-emotional competencies?
  • What dimensions of school climate are most important for promoting a growth mindset and social-emotional development?
  • To what degree are students holding a fixed mindset and low social-emotional competencies concentrated in the same schools?

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Robert Crosnoe , Chandra Muller , Paul Hanselman

TEAM DISCIPLINES:
Psychology, Statistics, American Indian Studies, Sociology

DATASET:
National Study of Learning Mindsets (~16K students), Houston ISD sub-sample from National Study of Learning Mindsets, (1,500 students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • What supports are necessary for learning mindsets to lead to positive outcomes for students in disadvantaged environments?
  • What makes a mindset program effective for students attending the poorest schools? How can these programs be designed to improve outcomes for students who face high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage and adversity?

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Ronald Ferguson

TEAM DISCIPLINES:
Psychology, Education, Economics

DATASET:
Measuring Effective Teacher Study (2,500 teachers)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • How are teachers creating cultures of growth, belonging, purpose, and affirmation through their daily instructional practices?
  • What “psychologically wise” instructional practices distinguish between low and high academic growth classrooms?

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Elizabeth Tipton, Ron Ferguson , Tim Wilson

TEAM DISCIPLINES:
Psychology, Education, Statistics, Economics

DATASET:
Tennessee Board of Regents Longitudinal Study (~19K students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • How do learning mindsets develop during co-requisite courses (courses in which postsecondary students take a one-credit support course alongside foundational math, English, and writing courses—rather than a non-credit developmental course)?
  • What factors affect learning mindset development in co-requisite courses?
  • Are changes in learning mindsets associated with academic, career preparation, and employment outcomes, and are these benefits explained by learning mindsets?

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Laura Brady, Bruce Austin, Amy Roth McDuffie, Chandra Muller

TEAM DISCPILINES:
American Indian Studies, Psychology, Education, Sociology

DATASET:
National Study of Learning Mindsets (~16K students), Houston ISD sub-sample from National Study of Learning Mindsets (1,500 students), National Indian Education Survey, (~10K Native American students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • Which environmental factors (e.g., teachers’ mindsets about intelligence and growth mindset practices) cue identity safety for underserved students?
  • How do these identity safety environmental factors facilitate or hinder the effectiveness of growth mindset interventions, particularly for underserved students?
  • Are growth mindset interventions more effective in classrooms where environmental factors cue identity safety?

TEAM DISCPILINES:
Psychology, Economics, Educational Policy

DATASET:
National Study of Learning Mindsets (~16K students), Houston ISD sub-sample from National Study of Learning Mindsets (~1,500 students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • Are teachers’ mindsets about mathematical ability related to their classroom practices?
  • Are teachers’ mindsets about mathematical ability directly related to students’ learning?
  • Are classroom practices related to students’ perception that their teacher endorses a growth mindset? If so, which practices are most strongly related to these perceptions?
  • Are there differences between stigmatized and non-stigmatized students in terms of how they perceive their teachers’ mindsets? Are stigmatized students less likely to perceive that their teachers endorse a growth mindset (e.g., think that anyone can become good at math)?

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Xiaofei Yang, Christina Krone

TEAM DISCPILINES:
Neuroscience, Education

DATASET:
Longitudinal study of adolescents’ social brain development (53 students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  • Is it possible to extend mindset programs to target broader psychosocial and neurobiological health outcomes among adolescents?
  • How do cultural influences on social brain development explain how exposures to cultural norms and values shape styles of social-emotional and self-processing?
  • Are there practices and policies that could more effectively support the development of learning mindsets by strategically leveraging opportunities for downtime and reflection with opportunities for concrete productivity?