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.

Fourteen projects have been awarded over two rounds of this initiative.

FUNDERS

A total of nearly one million dollars has been awarded to the projects across both rounds. Funding for the initiative was generously provided by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Overdeck Family Foundation, and Raikes Foundation.

PROJECTS & TEAM MEMBERS

The projects include 17 of the Mindset Scholars with over 20 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.

INITIAL FINDINGS

Initial findings from the first six funded projects have been released. Research Director Shanette Porter provides an overview of the takeaways from these projects in our blog post here. Find out more about the findings from the individual projects from the snapshot briefs linked below:

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS:
Joseph Robinson Cimpian, Kali Trzesniewski

TEAM DISCIPLINES:
Psychology, Economics, Education, Neuroscience

DATASET:
Longitudinal dataset of children who have experienced various levels of early adversity (~300 students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  • Can a growth mindset serve as a protective factor that allows some children to “bounce back” despite facing considerable hardship?
  • What experiences of children faced with early adversity might lead them to adopt a growth mindset?
  • What are the neurobiological components that ex- plain the link between children’s experiences and their mindsets?

TEAM DISCIPLINES: Sociology, Psychology

DATASET: Longitudinal dataset of children who have experienced trauma, including abuse, chronic exposure to domestic violence, and other types of interpersonal violence (250 students)
Longitudinal dataset of children selected based on socioeconomic status (250 students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • Does exposure to childhood adversity influence mind- sets about intelligence, sense of belonging at school, and perceived utility value of school and do these associations vary across distinct types of adversity? (threat (i.e., exposure to violence), deprivation (i.e., an absence of cognitive and social stimulation), and socioeconomic disadvantage)?
  • Are mindsets about intelligence, belonging, and perceived utility value mechanisms that link diverse forms of childhood adversity to poor academic performance later in childhood and adolescence?

TEAM DISCIPLINES: Economics, Education

DATASET: Longitudinal student-level administrative data from Oakland Unified School District

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • What were the effects of AAMA participation on measures of academic engagement such as chronic absenteeism and the probability of being suspended or expelled?
  • What are the effects of AAMA participation on diverse academic outcomes such as grades in core academic subjects, test performance, school dropout, and college matriculation?
  • Do social-psychological mechanisms mediate the effects of AAMA?
    Is there any evidence that the presence of an AAMA program had “spillover” effects for non-participating students in the school?

TEAM DISCIPLINES: Sociology, Education, Economics

DATASET: MSU administration data (~8,000 students)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • Is there value add to assigning students to both a light-touch mindset intervention at orientation and a follow-up mentoring program offered by the university that provides support throughout the first year of college?
  • Do any of these effects differ by key subgroups (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, first generation in college status)?
  • Do outcomes differ depending on characteristics of the mentor who works with the student during the first year of college?
    What causal mechanisms might explain how the interventions achieved their effects?

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS: Christopher Young, Sangyoon Park, Faye Kroshinsky

TEAM DISCIPLINES: Education, Psychology, Psychometrics

DATASET: Becoming Effective Learners Teacher Survey 2015-16 data (547 teachers) Becoming Effective
Learners Student Survey 2015-16 data (4,041 students)
5Essentials 2016 data (19,032 students; 2,952 teachers in 4 districts/networks)

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • How is school organization (e.g., effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments, ambitious instruction) related to students’ learning mindsets and performance?
  • How are teachers’ mindsets, beliefs about students, and teaching-related beliefs/practices related to students’ learning mindsets, learning strategies, and course performance?
  • What role do schools and teachers play in disparities in student learning mindsets across students’ back- ground characteristics?

OTHER TEAM MEMBERS: Stephen Hutt, Margo Gardner, Donald Kamentz, Abigail Quirk, Laura Allen

TEAM DISCIPLINES: Computer Science, Psychology, Education

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

PRIMARY RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  • How do mindsets and motivation, as coded from students’ open-ended descriptions of extracurricular activities and work experiences, predict college success and mediate the relationship between extracurricular activities / work experiences and college success?
  • Can natural language processing and machine learning techniques be used to automatically measure mindsets and other motivation-related constructs from writing samples at scale?
  • How do aspects of students’ high school learning environments moderate the relationship between extracurricular activities or work experiences, mindsets, and college success?

TEAM DISCIPLINES:
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?

RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

  • This research snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project

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

TEAM DISCIPLINES:
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?

RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

  • This research snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project

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?

RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

  • This research snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project

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?

RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

  • This research snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project

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?

RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

  • This research snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project

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

TEAM DISCIPLINES:
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 DISCIPLINES:
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 DISCIPLINES:
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?

RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

  • This research snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project