The Mindset Scholars Network is seeking a Research Director, who will have responsibility for overseeing investments to advance the Network’s research and scientific leadership agenda. This position can be located anywhere in the United States. See below for job description and instructions for applying. We encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds who can bring unique perspectives to the table to apply.


Mindset Scholars Network: Research Director

Position Summary

Motivation is a key factor in learning. Human beings are born to be learners and doers, and psychological research explains how meeting people’s basic needs to feel competent and connected to others can sustain their natural desire to learn and improve academic mastery. When students want to do a task, believe they can do the task, and feel part of a collective endeavor, they are more likely to choose challenging tasks, persist in the face of difficulty, learn more deeply, and achieve at higher levels.

Myriad factors shape students’ motivation to learn. But one key source of motivation is the beliefs that students come to hold about themselves, their relationship to others, and the work they’re asked to do in school. These beliefs are shaped by students’ observations of the world around them; they are reasonable inferences that reflect students’ reality. These beliefs (or ‘mindsets’) are the lenses through which students make meaning of, or construe their experiences in school. These interpretations, in turn, shape their responses.

The Mindset Scholars Network’s mission is to advance scientific understanding of mindsets and motivation to improve student outcomes and expand educational opportunity. We conduct original interdisciplinary research, build capacity for high quality mindset scholarship, and disseminate the latest scientific knowledge to the education sector. We serve as an authoritative resource for reliable, research-based information about learning mindsets, including: Growth Mindset, Belonging, and Purpose & Relevance.

The Research Director will play a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of students’ mindsets and motivation at a time when practitioners and policymakers are eager to integrate lessons from this research into systemic efforts to enhance learning and educational equity in K-12 and higher education.

Reporting to the Executive Director (ED), the Research Director will have both internal- and external-facing responsibilities, ranging from program design and oversight, organizational management, and outreach to partners. The Research Director will have responsibility for advancing the Network’s research agenda and supervising its investments in scientific leadership.

We are seeking a Research Director trained in the social sciences who:

  • Is committed to research that benefits students and educators and advances educational equity;
  • Is passionate about facilitating dialogue between the scientific community and practice;
  • Is energized by the prospect of promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration;
  • Can build strong relationships with researchers from different disciplines and backgrounds; and,
  • Can simultaneously think about the ‘big picture’ and execute on day-to-day management and planning skills.

Essential Responsibilities and Tasks

Research Management (30%)

  • Work with Network scholars to articulate an evolving, interdisciplinary research agenda (e.g., facilitate conversations with leading academics, synthesize and integrate multiple sources of input; produce public documents); solicit input from practitioners, policymakers, and funders on the agenda to ensure the Network’s scholarship is timely and relevant
  • Design and execute programs (e.g., Network-sponsored RFPs) for directing funds and other forms of assistance to scholars in support of new projects that further the Network’s interdisciplinary research agenda
  • Coordinate with and represent Network-sponsored projects: attend meetings for Network-sponsored studies; consult with study leadership on organizational matters and stay abreast of their emerging findings; and brief Network staff and external groups (e.g., funders, partner organizations) on the studies’ progress and findings
  • Design the parameters of research partnerships and manage external research contracts issued by the Network

Network Development and Internal Communications (25%)

  • Work with the ED and the Network’s Scientific Steering Committee to vet and recruit new scholars for Network membership
  • Lead the development of programmatic agendas for Network convenings and other Network-hosted scientific meetings
  • Design and lead the execution of Network convenings
  • Cultivate scientific community within the Network: communicate regularly and share resources and information with Network members; design and execute strategies for strengthening relationships and dialogue among Network members

Scientific Field-Building (20%)

  • Design and implement new initiatives (e.g., fellowships, mentorship programs, young scholar awards) to expand and diversify the community of scientists conducting research on mindsets from multiple disciplinary perspectives
  • Support Network-sponsored projects in making relevant data sets and other research assets (e.g., validated measures) publicly available and widely accessed
  • Build ties beyond the Network: develop and implement new outreach strategies to engage members of the scientific community beyond the Network membership, particularly in advancing the interdisciplinary research agenda articulated by the Network
  • Liaise regularly with the scientific leadership of other organizations in the mindset R&D space to ensure respective efforts are aligned and mutually reinforcing

Research Communications (20%)

  • Stay up to date with research and policy trends in education as it relates to mindsets and learning
  • Brief Network staff and external groups on relevant bodies of research
  • Attend conferences and present on the Network’s research investments
  • Contribute to a new messaging framework designed to increase awareness of mindset science in education discourse and articulate the potential for mindset science to improve teaching and learning
  • Advise and contribute to the development of a series of research briefs, presentations, and other written collateral that synthesizes the existing scientific knowledge base on mindsets

Grant Writing (5%)

  • Support the ED throughout the grant development and approval process including, but not limited to proposal writing, research, and budgeting

Required Education, Experience, Knowledge, Skills and Ability

  • Ph.D. in the social sciences, or equivalent experience (e.g., master’s degree and experience working in a research lab or firm) with research methods, survey design, and data analysis and management
  • Experience collaborating with researchers in psychology, sociology, economics, or related fields
  • Experience leading projects and collaborating with multiple partners; multi-tasking and prioritizing short-term deadlines while maintaining a focus on long-term goals
  • Experience providing feedback and guidance to peer-level and junior colleagues
  • Ability to write clearly and persuasively, communicate effectively one-on-one and in groups, deliver presentations, and develop research publications
  • Advanced skill with PowerPoint, Excel, and Word; ability to use Google Docs to collaborate with colleagues on shared content
  • Ability to collaborate productively and harmoniously in a team, while also being able to work independently with minimal oversight and exercise good judgment and sound decision-making
  • Ability to rapidly get up to speed on a new research topic
  • Ability to distill and relate complex topics for non-research audiences
  • Culturally open-minded, flexible, open to suggestions/opinions, direct but polite, and organized in all aspects of work (including communication)
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, remote office/telecommuting environment, including the ability to drive forward multiple work streams

How to Apply

We welcome and encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds who can bring unique perspectives to the table to apply. We are looking for people committed to cultivating an inclusive work environment that prioritizes continuous professional ‘stretching’ and growth, and helping each other make a positive contribution to the world. No location preference; people in all United States locations are encouraged to apply. This position will include approximately 10-15% domestic travel.

If you would like to apply for this position, please submit the following materials to info@mindsetscholarsnetwork.org with the subject line “Hiring – Research Director”:

  • A resume or CV
  • A cover letter summarizing your interest, qualifications, and experience

We expect to contact people for interviews on a rolling basis beginning in late October.





 New Venture Fund Careers

The Mindset Scholars Network is a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. The New Venture Fund is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding and enables each of us to realize our potential. The New Venture Fund’s work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.  

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