Search over three decades of research on mindsets, including Mindset Scholars Network briefs and working papers, and other publications from Network studies and initiatives.
This article discusses factors contributing to the belonging vulnerability of Black adolescents as well as educational policy considerations for providing Black adolescents with opportunities to belong at school. Scholarship at the intersection of educational psychology and teacher education provides cultural interpretations for why and how Black adolescents are vulnerable to issues of belonging when educators are not in their corner, and when curricula do not reflect their cultures. Policy recommendations include (a) strategic investments in principal preparation, (b) information and human resources to develop culturally relevant learning opportunities, and (c) substantive roles for students as school and community leaders who can help address structural causes of belonging vulnerability among this population.
This slide deck summarizes findings from the Inclusive Mathematics Environments Early Career Fellowship about creating inclusive environments for students from minoritized and marginalized groups in mathematics, with a focus on the middle childhood through mid-adolescence developmental stage. Research completed by the fellows suggests five interrelated guiding principles for creating more inclusive mathematics environments: mathematics educators need critical consciousness; mathematics curriculum should reflect a more expansive view of mathematics, including the history of mathematical concepts, the uses of mathematics in different cultures, and the application of mathematics for understanding current events; mathematics curriculum and instruction should be adaptable so that it is relevant to the specific students in the class; mathematics curriculum and instruction should feature meaningful opportunities to engage in collaborative work; and assessment practices and policies should prioritize deep mathematical thinking, exploration, and collaboration. The deck outlines and contextualizes the research underlying these principles and suggests directions for future research.
Broad-access institutions play a democratizing role in American society, opening doors to many who might not otherwise pursue college. Yet these institutions struggle with persistence and completion. Do feelings of nonbelonging play a role, particularly for students from groups historically disadvantaged in higher education? Is belonging relevant to students’ persistence—even when they form the numerical majority, as at many broad-access institutions? We evaluated a randomized intervention aimed at bolstering first-year students’ sense of belonging at a broad-access university (N = 1,063). The intervention increased the likelihood that racial-ethnic minority and first-generation students maintained continuous enrollment over the next two academic years relative to multiple control groups. This two-year gain in persistence was mediated by greater feelings of social and academic fit one-year post-intervention. Results suggest that efforts to address belonging concerns at broad-access, majority-minority institutions can improve core academic outcomes for historically disadvantaged students at institutions designed to increase college accessibility.
This multimethod study draws on theories of teacher care, dispositions, and culturally relevant pedagogy to examine how 12 urban mathematics teachers’ perceptions of their own care practices align with their Black and Latinx students’ (n = 321) sense of connectedness in the mathematics classroom. A qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with the teachers established three typologies of care: empathetic, transactional, and blended. A questionnaire measure of mathematics classroom connectedness revealed that students in classrooms led by teachers who enacted an empathetic caring pedagogy were more likely to agree that their teachers provided emotional support, their classroom felt like a family, and their contributions were valued in class. Furthermore, students’ sense of classroom connectedness mediated the link between teacher care and the students’ perceived value and relevance of mathematics.
This interpretive summary brings together insights from 10 early career scholars, two faculty contributors, and a network of senior scholars who served as mentors in the Inclusive Mathematics Environments Early Career Fellowship. Research insights are mapped onto the Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) framework and levers for systems change are suggested. The summary identifies new possibilities for deﬁning, recognizing, and eliciting success in mathematics environments.
This study answered novel questions about the connection between high school extracurricular dosage (number of activities and participation duration) and the attainment of a bachelor’s degree. Using data from the Common Application and the National Student Clearinghouse (N = 311,308), we found that greater extracurricular participation positively predicted bachelor’s degree attainment. However, among students who ultimately earned a bachelor’s degree, participating in more than a moderate number of high school activities (3 or 4) predicted decreasing odds of earning a bachelor’s degree on time (within 4 years). This effect intensified as participation duration increased, such that students who participated in the greatest number of high school activities for the most years were the most likely to delay college graduation.
tags: college success
It is widely acknowledged that the language we use reflects numerous psychological constructs, including our thoughts, feelings, and desires. Can the so called "noncognitive" traits with known links to success, such as growth mindset, leadership ability, and intrinsic motivation, be similarly revealed through language? We investigated this question by analyzing students' 150-word open-ended descriptions of their own extracurricular activities or work experiences included in their college applications. We used the Common Application-National Student Clearinghouse data set, a six-year longitudinal dataset that includes college application data and graduation outcomes for 278,201 U.S. high-school students. We first developed a coding scheme from a stratified sample of 4,000 essays and used it to code seven traits: growth mindset, perseverance, goal orientation, leadership, psychological connection (intrinsic motivation), self-transcendent (prosocial) purpose, and team orientation, along with earned accolades. Then, we used standard classifiers with bag-of-n-grams as features and deep learning techniques (recurrent neural networks) with word embeddings to automate the coding. The models demonstrated convergent validity with the human coding with AUCs ranging from .770 to .925 and correlations ranging from .418 to .734. There was also evidence of discriminant validity in the pattern of inter-correlations (rs between -.206 to .306) for both human- and model-coded traits. Finally, the models demonstrated incremental predictive validity in predicting six-year graduation outcomes net of sociodemographics, intelligence, academic achievement, and institutional graduation rates. We conclude that language provides a lens into noncognitive traits important for college success, which can be captured with automated methods.
tags: college success
The My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Challenge developed by President Obama supports communities that promote civic initiatives designed to improve the educational and economic opportunities specifically for young men of color. In Oakland, California, the MBK educational initiative features the African American Male Achievement (AAMA) program. The AAMA focuses on regularly scheduled classes exclusively for Black, male students and taught by Black, male teachers who focus on social-emotional training, African-American history, culturally relevant pedagogy, and academic supports. In this study, we present quasi-experimental evidence on the dropout effects of the AAMA by leveraging its staggered scale-up across high schools in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). We find that AAMA availability led to a significant reduction in the number of Black males who dropped out as well as smaller reductions among Black females, particularly in 9th grade.
Students from higher–socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds show a persistent advantage in academic outcomes over lower-SES students. It is possible that students’ beliefs about academic ability, or mindsets, play some role in contributing to these disparities. Data from a recent nationally representative sample of ninth-grade students in U.S. public schools provided evidence that higher SES was associated with fewer fixed beliefs about academic ability (a group difference of .22 standard deviations). Also, there was a negative association between a fixed mindset and grades that was similar regardless of a student’s SES. Finally, student mindsets were a significant but small factor in explaining the existing relationship between SES and achievement. Altogether, mindsets appear to be associated with socioeconomic circumstances and academic achievement; however, the vast majority of the existing socioeconomic achievement gap in the U.S. is likely driven by the root causes of inequality.
Could mitigating persistent worries about belonging in the transition to college improve adult life for black Americans? To examine this question, we conducted a long-term follow-up of a randomized social-belonging intervention delivered in the first year of college. This 1-hour exercise represented social and academic adversity early in college as common and temporary. As previously reported in Science, the exercise improved black students’ grades and well-being in college. The present study assessed the adult outcomes of these same participants. Examining adult life at an average age of 27, black adults who had received the treatment (versus control) exercise 7 to 11 years earlier reported significantly greater career satisfaction and success, psychological well-being, and community involvement and leadership. Gains were statistically mediated by greater college mentorship. The results suggest that addressing persistent social-psychological concerns via psychological intervention can shape the life course, partly by changing people’s social realities.
Although online courses are becoming increasingly popular in higher education, evidence is inconclusive regarding whether online students are likely to be as academically successful and motivated as students in face-to-face courses. In this study, we documented online and face-to-face students’ academic motivation and outcomes in community college mathematics courses, and whether differences might vary based on student characteristics (i.e., gender, underrepresented ethnic/racial minority status, first-generation college status, and adult learner status). Over 2,400 developmental mathematics students reported on their math motivation at the beginning (Week 1) and middle (Weeks 3, 5) of the semester. Findings indicated that online students received lower grades and were less likely to pass from their courses than face-to-face students, with online adult learners receiving particularly low final course grades and pass rates. In contrast, online and face-to-face students did not differ on incoming motivation, with subgroup analyses suggesting largely similar patterns of motivation across student groups. Together, findings suggest that online and face-to-face students may differ overall in academic outcomes but not in their motivation or differentially based on student characteristics. Small but significant differences on academic outcomes across modalities (Cohen’s ds = 0.17–0.28) have implications for community college students’ success in online learning environments, particularly for adult learners who are most likely to be faced with competing demands.
Immigrant adolescents are generally more ambitious but not as likely to achieve their career/occupational aspirations as their peers. The present study draws on self-discrepancy and social identity literatures to define and explore the role of mismatches between ethnic and aspiration-related ideal selves. In two samples recruited in Canada, 73% of immigrant adolescents aspired to a university-bound career (e.g., physician, engineer). As expected, adolescents reporting larger ethnic/ideal self-discrepancies were less engaged towards their aspiration (Sample 1, n = 73) and viewed school less favorably (Sample 2, n = 125). The present analyses suggest that actual/ideal self-discrepancies mediate these associations, thus extending prior findings and highlighting the role of self-discrepancies in immigrant adolescents’ experiences.
A growing amount of psychological research contributes to the understanding of complex social issues, including socioeconomic disparities in academic outcomes. At a basic level, several studies demonstrate the ways that socioeconomic resources and opportunities shape the identities of students during adolescence and young adulthood, particularly emphasizing how they imagine their lives in the future. These future identities, in turn, affect how students engage in school tasks and respond to academic difficulty. The implications of these basic insights connecting socioeconomic resources, identity, and academic outcomes are most meaningful when considered within various levels of social-contextual influence that surround students. A collection of studies demonstrates how peers, parents, teachers, and educational institutions as a whole can be targeted and leveraged to support student identities and outcomes. This deepened engagement with various levels of context can complement and advance the existing emphasis on individual-level intervention as a strategy to contribute to the progress of psychological science toward greater influence and significance.
This document was produced by the FrameWorks Institute, a communications firm, based on interviews with researchers, postsecondary and grades 6-12 educators, and members of the public. The report outlines gaps between the research related to student motivation and the public understanding of student motivation. It offers provisional recommendations for addressing communications challenges and for leveraging communications opportunities related to student motivation.
This document was produced by the FrameWorks Institute, a communications firm, based on a review of relevant research and interviews with scholars in the fields of neurobiology; social, educational, and cultural psychology; sociology; and economics. The synthesis provides the scientific story of student motivation; in other words, it uses everyday language to explain how researchers understand motivation and the factors that support and undermine motivation.
A growing amount of psychological theory and evidence explains pathways between a young person’s socioeconomic background, their identity, and their achievement of academic and career goals. These models provide an important foundation to investigating life trajectories, which can be expanded in 3 specific ways. First, studies can explicitly consider the important role of other social factors that intersect and overlap with socioeconomic considerations, including those related to the experience of race-ethnicity and racism. They can also be expanded to more directly acknowledge the strengths and assets of students from nondominant groups. Last, more research can holistically investigate the connections between achievement goal pursuit and physical health. The current article highlights select empirical studies advancing the psychological study of socioeconomic opportunity in these ways. The article also includes implications for the study of identity and the development of not only interventions but also a reimagining of systemic and institutional support particularly for people who face multiple dimensions of barriers in pursuing opportunities.
While the number of studies of flipped classrooms has increased, they have primarily addressed the efficacy of using such an approach on student outcomes, often failing to account for the classroom activities and learning theories used to design the curriculum. This study begins to fill this gap in the literature by uniting the at-home video and in-class curricular components of the flipped classroom via design heuristics that empower students to critically think about mathematical problems individually before engaging with the task in a collective environment. To that end, we illustrate how elements of the instructional design theory of Realistic Mathematics Education and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy influenced the written and hidden curriculum and how those considerations were then experienced by the students as part of the enacted components of the curriculum. The context of the study is a 2-week classroom teaching experiment covering topics in trigonometry and vectors for 27 calculus students at a Norwegian university.
Pass rates in community college front-door math courses are a national crisis. The current study adapted a utility value intervention from Hulleman and Harackiewicz (2009) to facilitate student success in community college math. In a double-blind experimental study (n = 180), we found a significant effect of the intervention on student pass rates. Further analysis revealed the intervention primarily improved men’s passing rates by 13% (d = .54), but did not affect women’s (d = -.15). The current study demonstrates that the utility value intervention can boost community college math outcomes. Intervention fidelity, practice, theory, and study limitations are discussed.
This study compared two expectancy-value-theory-based interventions designed to promote college students’ motivation and performance in introductory college physics. The utility value intervention was adapted from prior research and focused on helping students relate course material to their lives in order to perceive the material as more useful. The cost reduction intervention was novel and aimed to help students perceive the challenges of their physics course as less psychologically costly to them. Students (n = 148) were randomly assigned to the utility value intervention, cost reduction intervention, or a control condition. Participants completed intervention or control activities online at two points during the semester. Their motivational beliefs and values were measured twice, once immediately after the intervention or control activities ended and again at the end of the semester. Both interventions improved students’ grades and exam scores relative to the control group (d’s from 0.24-0.30), with stronger effects for students with lower initial course exam scores (d’s from 0.72-0.90). Unexpectedly, both interventions effects were explained in part by initially lower performing students reporting higher competence-related beliefs and lower cost immediately after they received either intervention, compared with lower performing students in the control condition. Results suggest that cost reduction and utility value interventions are both useful tools for improving students’ STEM course performance.
In recent years the field has improved the standards for replicators to follow to help ensure that a replication attempt, whether it succeeds or fails, will be informative. When these standards are not followed, false claims can result and opportunities to learn are missed, which could undermine the larger scientific enterprise and hinder the accumulation of knowledge. In the case addressed here-Li and Bates' (in press) attempt to replicate Mueller and Dweck's (1998) findings on the effects of ability versus effort praise on post-failure performance-the replicating authors did not follow best practices in the design or analysis of the study. Correcting even the simplest deviations from standard procedures yielded a clear replication of the original results. Li and Bates' data therefore provided one of the strongest possible types of evidence in support of Mueller and Dweck's (1998) findings: an independent replication by a researcher who is on record being skeptical of the phenomenon. The present paper highlights the wisdom of upholding the field's rigorous standards for replication research. It also highlights the importance of moving beyond yes/no thinking in replication studies and toward an approach that values collaboration, generalization, and the systematic identification of boundary conditions.
With the aim of bridging research in educational psychology and teacher education, we designed a research-practice partnership to unpack the concept of relevance from a race-reimaged perspective. Specifically, we employed a mixed-methods sequential explanatory research design to examine associations between the communal learning opportunities afforded to Black and Latinx students, and their engagement patterns during STEM activities. Within a nine-week instructional unit we provided students six opportunities to rate their scholastic activities. High levels of behavioral engagement were sustained over the course of the instructional unit. On weeks when students rated the activities as higher in communal affordances, they also reported more behavioral engagement. Classroom observations facilitated our efforts to create state space grids that show when and how teachers used emancipatory pedagogies to support students’ learning. We used these state space grids, along with teacher interviews and student focus groups, to develop contextualized illustrations of two teachers of color as they successfully provided communal forms of motivational support over the span of six observations per teacher. These strategies differed based on three key factors: where the lesson was placed within the larger instructional unit, the way teachers interpreted and responded to their students’ engagement patterns, and how the demands of the larger school environment impacted classroom dynamics.
Psychologically “wise” interventions can cause lasting improvement in key aspects of people’s lives, but where will they work and where will they not? We consider the psychological affordance of the social context: Does the context in which the intervention is delivered afford the way of thinking offered by the intervention? If not, treatment effects are unlikely to persist. Change requires planting good seeds (a more adaptive perspective) in fertile soil in which that seed can grow (a context with appropriate affordances). We illustrate the role of psychological affordances in diverse problem spaces, including recent large-scale trials of growth-mindset and social-belonging interventions designed specifically to understand heterogeneity across contexts. We highlight how the study of psychological affordances can advance theory about social contexts and inform debates about replicability.
In a nationally representative sample, first-year U.S. college students “somewhat agree,” on average, that they feel like they belong at their school. However, belonging varies by key institutional and student characteristics; of note, racial-ethnic minority and first-generation students report lower belonging than peers at 4-year schools, while the opposite is true at 2-year schools. Further, at 4-year schools, belonging predicts better persistence, engagement, and mental health even after extensive covariate adjustment. Although descriptive, these patterns highlight the need to better measure and understand belonging and related psychological factors that may promote college students’ success and well-being.
A recent set of studies (Muenks, Miele, & Wigfield, 2016) introduced the concept of perceived effort source to better explain how students reason about the relation between effort and ability when evaluating the academic abilities of other students. These studies showed that participants who were induced to perceive effort as task-elicited (i.e., as being primarily due to the subjective difficulty of the task) were more likely to view effort and ability as inversely related than participants who were induced to perceive effort as self-initiated (i.e., as being due to students’ motivation to go beyond the basic demands of the task). The current studies expanded on this research by demonstrating that, in the absence of an effort source manipulation, college students spontaneously invoked beliefs about the source of effort when evaluating their own (Study 2) and other students’ (Studies 1–3) abilities. The three studies also showed that our novel measure of individual differences in effort source beliefs was a better predictor of participants’ judgments of math ability (Studies 1 and 2) and verbal ability (Study 3) than a standard measure of their ability mindsets (i.e., beliefs about the extent to which intelligence is malleable). Specifically, participants who naturally tended to perceive effort as task-elicited generally rated students who expended relatively little effort as having more ability than did participants who tended to perceive effort as self-initiated. Implications for research on student motivation and for education practice are discussed.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Stephanie Fryberg and Mary Murphy that explored growth mindset classroom climates, defined as students’ shared perception that the teacher believes that all students can master the class material using hard work, effective learning strategies, and asking for help when needed. The study uses a nationally representative sample of 9th grade students in regular U.S. high schools.
This research brief provides an overview of a paper by Parker Goyer, Geoffrey Cohen, Jason Okonofua, Gregory Walton, and colleagues, exploring recursive cycles between students and teachers that are fueled by harmful stereotypes that allege that black and Latino boys are "troublemakers," and that lead to disproportionate rates of exclusionary discipline for these groups. The brief outlines two studies in which the researchers used interventions to affirm students' identities and provided students an alternate narrative with which to understand interactions with teachers. The brief describes the study design, key findings, and implications.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Xu Qin as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The study, using a novel analytic method, looks into the mediation mechanism that underlies the impact of the growth mindset program used in the National Study of Learning Mindsets, as well as how the impact varied across schools.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Soobin Kim as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The study evaluated casual effects of the growth mindset program used in the National Study of Learning Mindsets, and how those effects differed based on students' incoming mathematics GPA, mathematics course placement, and the fraction of control group students in their school who did not participate in the growth mindset program but nevertheless experienced an increase in self-reported growth mindset.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Nigel Bosch as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. Using sophisticated machine learning methods, the study examines reasons why the growth mindset intervention used in the National Study of Learning Mindsets may have been more or less effective (as measured by GPA improvement) in different contexts.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Nicole Sorhagen as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The project examines if and how mathematics anxiety and achievement are connected, and whether growth mindset plays a role in the relationship.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Nicholas Buttrick as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. In a sample of 9th grade mathematics teachers, the project explores the concept of false growth mindset -- a belief that effort alone can lead to improvement regardless of other factors like effective learning strategies and help-seeking.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Michael Broda as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The project uses multilevel latent profile analysis to identify distinct learning profiles based on students' mathematics anxiety, interest, and achievement. The role of teachers' mathmatics anxiety and view of mathematics instruction is also examined.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Manyu Li as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM) Early Career Fellowship. The study analyzed the emotions that students displayed in writing exercises as part of the growth mindset intervention used in the NSLM, and how these emotions related to the impact of the program on students' GPA.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Maithreyi Gopalan as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The study adapts empirical methods stemming from advancements in econometrics and program evaluation to estimate the effect of the growth mindset intervention used in the National Study of Learning Mindsets on students' learning-oriented behavior (specifically, challenge seeking) and how this effect varied from school to school.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The project examines implicit bias among 9th grade mathematics teachers using the Affect Misattribution Procedure.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Guillaume Basse as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The project investigates whether students who did not receive the growth mindset intervention used in the National Study of Learning Mindsets benefitted from being in contact with students who did. The snapshot offers insights about the design of future research related to peer effects.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Eunjin Seo as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The study investigates the extent to which 9th grade students' self-reported concerns about racial/ethnic and gender stereotypes in mathematics predict mathematics anxiety, challenge avoidance, and achievement, as well as how fixed mindset beliefs play into these relationships.
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Alison Koenka as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The project explores two questions: 1) Do academic labeling and mathematics tracking predict differences in students’ beliefs about intelligence, motivational beliefs, and academic performance? 2) Does a growth mindset program (i.e., an intervention promoting beliefs that intelligence is malleable) differentially influence students’ beliefs and performance based on their academic labeling and mathematics tracking experiences?
This research snapshot summarizes a project led by Alexander Browman as part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship. The project explores how teachers' beliefs about the malleability of intelligence and perceptions of student ability influence their use of supportive or restrictive instructional messages.
This report explores the critical importance of “teacher mindsets,” or teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and practices, in fortifying students’ investment in learning. The authors profile several schools in the forefront of that work, schools that have begun to use the new findings on teacher mindsets to shift adult belief and behaviors in ways that strengthen students’ view of themselves as learners and their motivation to learn.
The Becoming Effective Learners Student Survey (BEL-S) was designed by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research to illuminate relationships among important student, classroom/instructional, and academic outcome variables. In the present study, the researchers used these surveys and administrative data to test the relationships among categories of student noncognitive factors and students' course grades. They tested whether four categories of noncognitive factors (academic mindsets, learning strategies, academic behaviors, and academic perseverance), as measured by self-report surveys in the context of specific classes, predicted students’ end-of-semester course grades in those classes. They also investigated the relationships between classroom environments and students’ self-reported noncognitive factors and their end-of-semester course grades.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project by Thomas Dee and Emily Penner that analyzed the impact of the African American Male Achievement (AAMA) program in Oakland, California. The AAMA is the first program in the nation to embed a culturally-centered curriculum specifically targeted to black male students into the regular school day at the district level. The study used data from a 12-year period to assess the program's impact on high school persistence.
The snapshot shares key findings, insights, and future directions for the project.
Decision making requires consideration of both the benefits of a given choice and the costs, which can include risk, delay, and effort. Previous research has examined the developmental trajectory of adolescent decision making regarding risk and delay; however, the effects of effort on adolescent decision making remain largely unexplored. In the present study, we pilot tested a novel, developmentally-appropriate task designed to examine developmental differences in the willingness to expend effort during goal pursuit in adolescents (ages 13–16, n = 23) versus young adults (ages 18–23, n = 25). Adolescents exhibited reduced sensitivity to physical effort costs compared to adults, effects which did not appear to be driven by differences in subjective task motivation or awareness of the effort requirements. These findings provide preliminary evidence that adolescence may be a time of increased willingness to expend effort during goal pursuit. Effort-based decision making is an understudied but exciting avenue for developmental research, as the willingness to engage in effortful pursuit of new experiences during adolescence may help to facilitate the path to independence.
For over a decade, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has formed partnerships allowing local police to enforce immigration law by identifying and arresting undocumented residents. Prior studies, using survey data with self-reported immigrant and citizenship status, provide mixed evidence on their demographic impact. This study presents new evidence based on Hispanic public school enrollment. We find local ICE partnerships reduce the number of Hispanic students by 10% within 2 years. We estimate partnerships enacted before 2012 displaced more than 300,000 Hispanic students. These effects are concentrated among elementary school students. We find no corresponding effects on the enrollment of non-Hispanic students and no evidence that ICE partnerships reduced pupil-teacher ratios or the percentage of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program.
Many students find math difficult, but those who are intrinsically motivated learn and do well even when they face obstacles. Here, the authors examine an environmental factor that might affect students' intrinsic motivation in math: namely, teachers' beliefs about success in math. Do teachers perceive elementary school math as a domain that requires an innate ability, and does this belief relate to students' intrinsic motivation in math? Our study explored these questions in a sample of 830 German fourth graders and their 56 teachers. Teachers reported stronger beliefs in the role of innate ability for math than for German language arts. In addition, the more teachers believed that math requires innate ability, the lower was the intrinsic motivation of their low-achieving students. These results suggest that teachers’ beliefs that math success depends on innate ability may be an important obstacle to creating a classroom atmosphere that fosters engagement and learning for all students.
This article reports findings from the largest-ever randomized controlled trial of a growth mindset program in the United States in K-12 settings. The study combined a test for cause-and-effect (a randomized experiment) with a sample that enables claims about an entire population (a nationally representative probability sample). The study found that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset intervention—which teaches that intellectual abilities can be developed—improved grades among lower-achieving students and increased enrollment in advanced mathematics courses among both higher- and lower-achieving students in a nationally representative sample of regular public high schools in the United States. Notably, the study identified school contexts that moderated the effects of the growth mindset intervention: the intervention had a stronger effect on grades when peer norms aligned with the messages of the intervention. In addition to its rigorous design, the study also featured independent data collection and processing, pre-registration of analyses, and corroboration of results by a blinded Bayesian analysis.
This research summary provides an overview of an article published in Nature by David Yeager and colleagues about initial results from the National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM). The NSLM was designed to understand which kinds of students, in which kinds of classrooms, and in which kinds of schools are most likely to benefit from a short online program designed to foster a growth mindset during the transition to high school. The summary includes key findings and implications for education policy and practice.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Barbara Schneider, John Yun, and Soobin Kim. The project analyzed the impact of online learning mindset interventions administered to prospective Michigan State University students in the summer before matriculation. The study evaluated the impact of the interventions on students’ academic performance and persistence and explored the impact of pairing the online mindset interventions with an on-campus mentoring program.
The snapshot shares key findings, insights, and future directions for the project.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Katie McLaughlin and Rob Crosnoe. The project explores whether exposure to common forms of childhood adversity is associated with children’s learning mindsets, including growth mindset, sense of belonging at school, perceived utility value of school, and purpose for learning, as well as how these associations vary across different types of adversity.
The snapshot shares key findings, insights, and future directions for the project.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Camille Farrington and Shanette Porter. The project leveraged a rich dataset that was designed to compare individual students to themselves across two different classroom environments. The research team completed a detailed analysis of classroom learning environments, identifying aspects of teacher practice, teacher mindsets, and classroom composition factors that were related to students’ perceptions of the environment.
The snapshot shares key findings, insights, and future directions for the project.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Sidney D'Mello, Angela Duckworth, Margo Gardner, and Donald Kamentz. The project analyzed language used by students in their college applications to explore the connections between extra-curricular/work experiences, psychological factors, and college success (as measured by graduating within four or six years).
The snapshot shares key findings, insights, and future directions for the project.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Andrei Cimpian and Nim Tottenham. The project explored whether and how children’s beliefs about their ability to learn might have a buffering effect against the negative academic effects that are commonly associated with adverse experiences.
The snapshot shares key findings, insights, and future directions for the project.
High rates of discipline citations predict adverse life outcomes, a harm disproportionately borne by Black and Latino boys. We hypothesized that these citations arise in part from negative cycles of interaction between students and teachers, which unfold in contexts of social stereotypes. Can targeted interventions to facilitate identity safety—a sense of belonging, inclusion, and growth—for students help? Experiment 1 combined social-belonging, values-affirmation, and growth-mindset interventions delivered in several class sessions in 2 middle schools with a large Latino population (N = 669). This treatment reduced citations among negatively stereotyped boys in 7th and 8th grades by 57% as compared with a randomized control condition. A growth-mindset only treatment was also effective. Experiment 2 tested the social-belonging intervention alone, a grade earlier, at a third school with a large Black population and more overall citations (N = 137 sixth-grade students). In 2 class sessions, students reflected on stories from previous 7th-grade students, which represented worries about belonging and relationships with teachers early in middle school as normal and as improving with time. This exercise reduced citations among Black boys through the end of high school by 65%. Suggesting improved interactions with teachers, longitudinal analyses found that the intervention prevented rises in citations involving subjective judgments (e.g., “insubordination”) within 6th and 7th grades. It also forestalled the emergence of worries about being seen stereotypically by the end of 7th grade. Identity threat can give rise to cycles of interaction that are maladaptive for both teachers and students in school; targeted exercises can interrupt these cycles to improve disciplinary outcomes over years.
Differences in structural resources and individual skills contribute to social-class disparities in both U.S. gateway institutions of higher education and professional workplaces. People from working-class contexts also experience cultural barriers that maintain these disparities. In this article, we focus on one critical cultural barrier—the cultural mismatch between (a) the independent cultural norms prevalent in middle-class contexts and U.S. institutions and (b) the interdependent norms common in working-class contexts. In particular, we explain how cultural mismatch can fuel social-class disparities in higher education and professional workplaces. First, we explain how different social-class contexts tend to reflect and foster different cultural models of self. Second, we outline how higher education and professional workplaces often prioritize independence as the cultural ideal. Finally, we describe two key sites of cultural mismatch—norms for understanding the self and interacting with others—and explain their consequences for working-class people’s access to and performance in gateway institutions.
Stereotype threat is being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one's group. Studies 1 and 2 varied the stereotype vulnerability of Black participants taking a difficult verbal test by varying whether or not their performance was ostensibly diagnostic of ability, and thus, whether or not they were at risk of fulfilling the racial stereotype about their intellectual ability. Reflecting the pressure of this vulnerability, Blacks underperformed in relation to Whites in the ability-diagnostic condition but not in the nondiagnostic condition (with Scholastic Aptitude Tests controlled). Study 3 validated that ability-diagnosticity cognitively activated the racial stereotype in these participants and motivated them not to conform to it, or to be judged by it. Study 4 showed that mere salience of the stereotype could impair Blacks' performance even when the test was not ability diagnostic. The role of stereotype vulnerability in the standardized test performance of ability-stigmatized groups is discussed.
This research report summarizes results from interviews and focus groups conducted by the Mindset Scholars Network with teacher preparation stakeholders who are integrating research on the social psychology of motivation into the training of pre-service educators. Across four key areas of insight, the report describes how this research is currently being integrated into programs and identifies challenges and opportunities for more widespread integration.
In this paper, the authors provide a comprehensive theoretical review and organization of a psychologically informed approach to social problems, one that encompasses a wide-range of interventions and applies to diverse problem areas. The authors review more than 325 intervention studies with an eye towards people's psychological meaning-making related to the interventions. In other words, they examine how people make meaning of themselves, other people, and social situations; how deleterious meanings can arise from social and cultural contexts; how interventions to change meanings can help people flourish; and how initial change can become embedded to alter the course of people’s lives. They further describe how this approach relates to and complements other prominent approaches to social reform, which emphasize not subjective meaning-making but objective change in situations or in the habits and skills of individuals.
At the beginning of the development of meta‐analysis, understanding the role of moderators was given the highest priority, with meta‐regression provided as a method for achieving this goal. Yet in current practice, meta‐regression is not as commonly used as anticipated. This paper seeks to understand this mismatch by reviewing the history of meta‐regression methods over the past 40 years. We divide this time span into four periods and examine three types of methodological developments within each period: technical, conceptual, and practical. Our focus is broad and includes development of methods in the fields of education, psychology, and medicine. We conclude the paper with a discussion of five consensus points, as well as open questions and areas of research for the future.
tags: mindset research
In STEM project group teams, men speak for more time (Meadows and Sekaquaptewa, 2011) and engage in more active technical participation than women, which can have negative long-term consequences (Cheryan et al., 2017; Lord et al., 2011). In the current study, we tested the effects of a brief counter-stereotypic video intervention on gender gaps in verbal participation on mixed-gender teams of STEM students (N =143). Participants viewed either a control video of an engineering student team behaving in a gender stereotype-consistent way (men talked longer and presented more technical information than women) in a group presentation and group interview, or a gender counter-stereotypic intervention version (roles reversed) prior to engaging in their own STEM group project task in a laboratory setting. Analysis of video footage of the groups showed that men spoke longer than women in the control condition, but men and women spoke for equal time in the intervention condition. This result was corroborated by participants’ self-report of their verbal participation in their group.
Expectancy-value theory (Eccles, 2009) posits that students’ relative expectancies and values across domains inform their academic choices. Students should therefore be more likely to choose a STEM major if they have higher expectancies and values in STEM domains compared with other domains. Accordingly, this study aimed to explore how upper secondary school students’ profiles in expectancy-value beliefs in math and English are related to concurrent achievement and university major choice. Data on expectancies and values in math and English were collected from 2,153 German students in their last school year, along with their concurrent math and English achievement and their university major 2 years later. Latent profile analyses revealed four distinct expectancy-value profiles characterized as Low Math/High English, Moderate Math/Moderate English, High Math/Low English, and High Math/High English. Students’ gender, socioeconomic status, and type of school were meaningfully associated with profile membership. For instance, female students were overrepresented in the Low Math/High English profile compared with other profiles. Students in the four profiles also differed in their math and English achievement. These differences were mostly in line with students’ expectancies and values in the respective domain, but some differences suggested that intraindividual cross-domain comparison processes were also at play. Finally, profile membership predicted students’ choice of a STEM major over and above demographic characteristics and achievement. Students in the High Math/Low English profile were most likely to choose a STEM major. These findings support the importance of considering intraindividual comparisons of expectancies and values for students’ achievement-related behavior and choices.
Informed by the theoretical lens of opportunity hoarding, this study considers whether STEM postsecondary fields stand apart via the disproportionate exclusion of Black and Latina/o youth. Utilizing national data from the Beginning Postsecondary Study (BPS), the authors investigate whether Black and Latina/o youth who begin college as STEM majors are more likely to depart than their White peers, either by switching fields or by leaving college without a degree, and whether patterns of departure in STEM fields differ from those in non-STEM fields. Results reveal evidence of persistent racial/ethnic inequality in STEM degree attainment not found in other fields.
By many accounts, young people from modest socioeconomic backgrounds who succeed in education and secure gainful employment should expect to experience better physical health as a result of their elevated social position. However, increasing evidence indicates that experiences of socioeconomic mobility may not accompany a health benefit but rather can lead to poorer physical health for some individuals. On certain indicators, adults who originated from disadvantaged backgrounds and achieved educational and economic success found themselves in worse health than their childhood peers who did not experience an upward socioeconomic trajectory. The current article organizes studies from three bodies of research that attempt to describe and explain the health costs of socioeconomic mobility. In addition, a novel framework builds upon the existing studies to articulate a common psychological process, centered on identity and immunology. Underutilized studies of identity provide a deeper understanding of the challenges associated with socioeconomic mobility and their consequences for inflammation and the immune system. The novel framework serves to bridge prior studies of socioeconomic status and health and also provides guidance to inform future studies. Finally, interventions to encourage socioeconomic mobility are considered, with an emphasis on provisions to include elements of social support that may lead to simultaneous positive effects on achievement and physical health.
Humans make decisions across a variety of social contexts. Though social decision making research has blossomed in recent decades, surprisingly little is known about whether social decision making preferences are consistent across different domains. We conducted an exploratory study in which participants made choices about two types of close others, parents and friends. To elicit decision making preferences, we pit the interests in parents and friends against one another. To assess the consistency of social preferences for close others, decision making occurred in three domains—risk taking, probabilistic learning, and self-other similarity judgments. If social decision making preferences are consistent across domains, participants ought to exhibit the same preference in all three domains (i.e., a parent preference, based on prior work), and individual differences in preference magnitude ought to be conserved across domains within individuals. A combination of computational modeling, random coefficient regression, and traditional statistical tests indicated that parent-over-friend preferences were present in all three domains and that individual differences regarding the magnitude of this preference were consistent across domains. These results suggest that domain-specific social decision making preferences may rely on common, underlying psychological processes.
Research in psychological and behavioral science has demonstrated the incredibly powerful role that psychological factors can play in helping encourage college student learning, success, and completion. In simple terms, psychological factors refer to considerations of how people subjectively experience any given task (e.g., assignment), situation (e.g., classroom), or institution (e.g., college). The core psychological question is whether these college contexts and practices convey to students that they are supported and likely to reach their goals or that they are unsupported and unlikely to reach their goals. Thoughtful consideration of how institutions convey these messages to students through their policies and practices has enormous consequences for student success.
Economic inequality can have a range of negative consequences for those in younger generations, particularly for those from lower-socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. Economists and psychologists, among other social scientists, have addressed this issue, but have proceeded largely in parallel. This Perspective outlines how these disciplines have proposed and provided empirical support for complementary theoretical models. Specifically, both disciplines emphasize that inequality weakens people’s belief in socioeconomic opportunity, thereby reducing the likelihood that low-SES young people will engage in behaviours that would improve their chances of upward mobility (for example, persisting in school or averting teenage pregnancy). In integrating the methods and techniques of economics and psychology, we offer a cohesive framework for considering this issue. When viewed as a whole, the interdisciplinary body of evidence presents a more complete and compelling framework than does either discipline alone. We use this unification to offer policy recommendations that would advance prospects for mobility among low-SES young people.
We examine the role of information in college matching behavior of low- and high-income students, exploiting a state automatic admissions policy that provides some students with perfect a priori certainty of college admissions. We find that admissions certainty encourages college-ready low-income students to seek more rigorous universities. However, low-income students who are less college ready are not influenced by admissions certainty and are more sensitive to college entrance exams scores. Most students also prefer campuses with students of similar demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Only highly qualified, low-income students choose institutions where they have fewer same-race and same-income peers. These results suggest that automatic admission policies can reduce income-based inequities in college quality by encouraging low-income students who are highly qualified for college to seek out better matched institutions.
A growth mindset is the belief that human capacities are not fixed but can be developed over time, and mindset research examines the power of such beliefs to influence human behavior. This article offers two personal perspectives on mindset research across two eras. Given recent changes in the field, the authors represent different generations of researchers, each focusing on different issues and challenges, but both committed to “era-bridging” research. The first author traces mindset research from its systematic examination of how mindsets affect challenge seeking and resilience, through the ways in which mindsets influence the formation of judgments and stereotypes. The second author then describes how mindset research entered the era of field experiments and replication science, and how researchers worked to create reliable interventions to address underachievement—including a national experiment in the United States. The authors conclude that there is much more to learn but that the studies to date illustrate how an era-bridging program of research can continue to be generative and relevant to new generations of scholars.
Despite efforts to attract and maintain diverse students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pipeline, issues with attrition from undergraduate STEM majors persist. The aim of this study was to examine how undergraduate science students’ competence beliefs, task values, and perceived costs in science combine into motivational profiles and to consider how such profiles relate to short‐term and long‐term persistence outcomes in STEM. We also examined the relations between underrepresented group membership and profile membership. Using latent profile analysis, we identified three profiles that characterized 600 participants’ motivation during their first semester in college: Moderate All, Very High Competence/Values‐Low Effort Cost, and High Competence/Values‐Moderate Low Costs. The Moderate All profile was associated with the completion of fewer STEM courses and lower STEM grade point averages relative to the other profiles after 1 and 4 years of college. Furthermore, underrepresented minority students were overrepresented in the Moderate All profile. Findings contribute to our understanding of how science competence beliefs, task values, and perceived costs may coexist and what combinations of these variables may be adaptive or deleterious for STEM persistence and achievement.
In this chapter from the revised Handbook of Competence and Motivation, the authors offer a definition of belonging that goes beyond personal relationships to consider a set of implicit worries, questions and inferences that arise for individuals about the quality of fit between themselves and a given setting. The authors provide an overview of the evidence base and literature on belonging.
Researchers and policymakers in the US and beyond increasingly seek to identify teaching qualities that are associated with academic achievement gains for K-12 students through effectiveness studies. Yet teaching quality varies with academic content and social contexts, involves multiple participants, and requires a range of skills, knowledge, and dispositions. In this essay, we address the inescapable tension between complexity and scale in research on teaching effectiveness. We provide five recommendations to study designers and analysts to manage this tension to enhance effectiveness research, drawing on our recent experiences as the first external analysts of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study. Our recommendations address conceptual framing, the measurement of teaching (e.g., observation protocols, student surveys), sampling, classroom videoing, and the use and interpretation of value-added models.
In this article, Angela Duckworth describes what led her to co-found Character Lab and the lessons learned by the organization. Character Lab is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children thrive using psychological science. Character Lab pursues three specific initiatives. First, the organization makes it easier for scientists to carry out applied research with school-age children. Second, Character Lab conducts interdisciplinary research, partnering with teachers, athletic coaches, artists, and other outside-the-academic-box thinkers to create interventions that build character strengths. Third, Character Lab translates insights from research into actionable advice for teachers and parents.
Carol Dweck describes this article as charting her evolution "from a researcher doing basic research with little thought of direct application to a researcher and writer with a mission to use what I learn for the benefit of individuals and, I hope, of society itself." She lays out current challenges and opportunities in translating social science into usable interventions and practices for students and teachers.
The statistics are all too familiar, all too depressing, and their consistency creates what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called a mountain of despair. We are referring to statistics repeatedly showing racial/ethnic-minority and low-income students in the United States underperforming in school and earning fewer degrees than others (Oyserman & Lewis, 2017). More troubling, without intervention, these patterns are projected to continue in the future (Beck & Muschkin, 2012; Hedges & Nowell, 1999; Oyserman & Lewis, 2017), leaving members of these groups behind. It is increasingly necessary to attain higher levels of education to live comfortably in modern life (DiPrete & Buchmann, 2006; Levin, Belfield, Muennig, & Rouse, 2007; Vilorio, 2016). Yet students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to attain academic credentials, in part because of their misfortune of being born into families, neighborhoods, and broader social contexts that limit their access to the material and social capital necessary to compete in academic arenas (DavisKean, 2005; Frank, 2017; Oyserman & Lewis, 2017). We find this deeply troubling and thus spend considerable amounts of time studying processes that contribute to this depressing reality and developing interventions to try and, as King (1963) described, “hew out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” This article describes an intervention program we worked on and its effects on students at the University of Michigan.
Psychological theories often locate the problem of prejudice within people. However, prejudice stems from both people and places. Prejudiced contexts are places with predictable, systematic inequalities in experience and outcomes based on people’s social group memberships—advantaging people from some social groups, while disadvantaging people from others. The prejudice-in-places model illuminates sources of inequality that would otherwise be overlooked and suggests novel avenues for intervention. By understanding how norms, values, policies, practices, and procedures can create prejudiced places, leaders and policymakers can intentionally debias environments so that members of all social groups can flourish in educational and organizational settings.
An important goal of the scientific community is broadening the achievement and participation of racial minorities in STEM fields. Yet, professors’ beliefs about the fixedness of ability may be an unwitting and overlooked barrier for stigmatized students. Results from a longitudinal university-wide sample (150 STEM professors and more than 15,000 students) revealed that the racial achievement gaps in courses taught by more fixed mindset faculty were twice as large as the achievement gaps in courses taught by more growth mindset faculty. Course evaluations revealed that students were demotivated and had more negative experiences in classes taught by fixed (versus growth) mindset faculty. Faculty mindset beliefs predicted student achievement and motivation above and beyond any other faculty characteristic, including their gender, race/ethnicity, age, teaching experience, or tenure status. These findings suggest that faculty mindset beliefs have important implications for the classroom experiences and achievement of underrepresented minority students in STEM.
In this paper, the author exploits the random assignment of class rosters in the MET Project to estimate teacher effects on students’ performance on complex open-ended tasks in math and reading, as well as their growth mindset, grit, and effort in class. Large teacher effects are found across this expanded set of outcomes, but weak relationships are found between these effects and performance measures used in current teacher evaluation systems including value-added to state standardized tests. These findings suggest teacher effectiveness is multidimensional, and high-stakes evaluation decisions are only weakly informed by the degree to which teachers are developing students’ complex cognitive skills and social-emotional competencies.
The National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM) is a randomized trial evaluating an intervention in a national sample of schools that were selected to participate via probability sampling methods. The response rate for this study was 56%. This paper evaluates whether site-level non-response compromises the generalizability of the results from the achieved sample of schools in the NSLM. Comparisons of characteristics of schools taking part in the NSLM relative to national benchmarks shows that the NSLM sample has a high degree of similarity to the population of all regular, U.S. public high schools with at least 25 students in 9th grade and in which 9th grade is the lowest grade, via two metrics. Thus, full-sample estimates and conditional estimates (within school achievement and racial composition subgroups) are likely to be highly generalizable to the corresponding populations of inference.
Having surveyed the history and methods of meta-regression in a previous paper, in this paper the authors review which and how meta-regression methods are applied in recent research syntheses. To do so, they review studies published in 2016 across four leading research synthesis journals: Psychological Bulletin, the Journal of Applied Psychology, Review of Education Research, and the Cochrane Library. They find that the best practices defined in the previous review are rarely carried out in practice. In light of the identified discrepancies, they consider how to move forward, first by identifying areas where further methods development is needed to address persistent problems in the field, and second by discussing how to more effectively disseminate points of methodological consensus.
Despite the numerous intellectual contributions made by women, we find evidence of bias against them in contexts that emphasize intellectual ability. In the first experiment, 347 participants were asked to refer individuals for a job. Approximately half of the participants were led to believe that the job required high-level intellectual ability; the other half were not. A Bayesian mixed-effects logistic regression revealed that the odds of referring a woman were 38.3% lower when the job description mentioned intellectual ability, consistent with the possibility of gender bias. We also found evidence of gender bias in Experiment 2, which was a preregistered direct replication of Experiment 1 with a larger and more diverse sample (811 participants; 44.6% people of color). Experiment 3 provided a developmental investigation of this bias by testing whether young children favor boys over girls in the context of intellectually challenging activities. Five- to 7-year-olds (N = 192) were taught how to play a team game. Half of the children were told that the game was for “really, really smart” children; the other half were not. Children then selected three teammates from among six unfamiliar children. Children’s initial selections were driven by ingroup bias (i.e., girls chose girls and boys chose boys), but children subsequently showed bias against girls, choosing girls as teammates for the “smart” game only 37.6% of the time (vs. 53.4% for the other game). Bias against women and girls in contexts where brilliance is prized emerges early and is a likely obstacle to their success.
Researchers commonly interpret effect sizes by applying benchmarks proposed by Cohen over a half century ago. However, effects that are small by Cohen’s standards are often large in the context of field-based education interventions. This focus on magnitude also obscures important differences in study features, program costs, and scalability. This paper proposes a new framework for interpreting effect sizes of education interventions, which consists of five broadly applicable guidelines and a detailed schema for interpreting effects from causal studies with standardized achievement outcomes. The schema introduces new effect-size and cost benchmarks, while also considering program scalability. Together, the framework provides scholars and research consumers with an empirically-based, practical approach for interpreting the policy importance of effect sizes from education interventions.
Light-touch social psychological interventions have gained considerable attention for their potential to improve academic outcomes for underrepresented and/or disadvantaged students in postsecondary education. While findings from previous interventions have demonstrated positive effects for racial and ethnic minority and first-generation students in small samples, few interventions have been implemented at a larger scale with more heterogeneous student populations. To address this research gap, 7,686 students, representing more than 90% of incoming first-year students at a large Midwestern public university, were randomly assigned to an online growth mindset intervention, social belonging intervention, or a comparison group. Results suggest that after the fall semester, the growth mindset intervention significantly improved grade point averages for Latino/a students by about .40 points. This represents a 72% reduction in the GPA gap between White and Latino/a students. Further, this effect was replicated for both spring semester GPA and cumulative GPA. These findings indicate that light-touch interventions may be a minimally invasive approach to improving academic outcomes for underrepresented students. The findings also highlight the complexity of implementing customized belonging interventions in heterogeneous contexts.
Achieving important goals is widely assumed to require confronting obstacles, failing repeatedly, and persisting in the face of frustration. Yet empirical evidence linking achievement and frustration tolerance is lacking. To facilitate work on this important topic, the authors developed and validated a novel behavioral measure of frustration tolerance: the Mirror Tracing Frustration Task (MTFT). In this 5-min task, participants allocate time between a difficult tracing task and entertaining games and videos. In two studies of young adults (Study 1: N = 148, Study 2: N = 283), the authors demonstrated that the MTFT increased frustration more than 18 other emotions, and that MTFT scores were related to self-reported frustration tolerance. Next, they assessed whether frustration tolerance correlated with similar constructs, including self-control and grit, as well as objective measures of real-world achievement. In a prospective longitudinal study of high-school seniors (N = 391), MTFT scores predicted grade-point average and standardized achievement test scores, and-more than 2 years after completing the MTFT-progress toward a college degree. Though small in size (i.e., rs ranging from .10 to .24), frustration tolerance predicted outcomes over and above a rich set of covariates, including IQ, sociodemographics, self-control, and grit. These findings demonstrate the validity of the MTFT and highlight the importance of frustration tolerance for achieving valued goals.
Given that countless studies have documented the wide-ranging benefits of self-regulation, determining if and how self-regulation can be improved is an important scientific and societal priority. Existing theories suggest that the deterioration of self-regulation is partially shaped by perceptions of effort. Therefore, one promising way to sustain self-regulation may be to cultivate a growth mindset, which has been shown to affect behavior in part by altering effort attributions. Although growth mindsets—the belief that a given trait can be improved through practice—have been studied extensively, particularly in the domain of intelligence, little research has examined the effects of promoting a growth mindset specifically about self-regulation. Here five studies test how promoting a growth mindset of self-regulation impacts actual self-regulation in daily life and the laboratory. In Study 1, relative to an active control that received relationship training, an intensive self-regulation training program emphasizing a growth mindset led participants to persevere longer on impossible anagrams, which was partially mediated by altering attributions of mental fatigue. Relatively, the self-regulation training also led participants to notice more opportunities for self-control in daily life and more successfully resist everyday temptations. The subsequent four studies isolated and abbreviated the growth mindset manipulation, demonstrated improved persistence and decreased effort avoidance, and attempted to further examine the critical mediators. Collectively, results indicate that a growth mindset of self-regulation can change attributions and allocation of effort in meaningful ways that may affect the willingness to attempt challenging tasks and the perseverance required to complete them.
Restoring and protecting a sense of belonging for Black, Brown, and poor youth remains at the heart of social justice in U.S. schools. Drawing on research and lived experiences as an educator, Dr. Jamaal Matthews discusses mindsets and practices teachers can develop to assuage the assault against belonging and become proactive in restoring equity and opportunity in mathematics classrooms that serve historically disenfranchised students. This paper highlights the critical mindsets necessary for enacting and sustaining equity-based teaching practices. Next, it provides instructional strategies embedded within two high-leverage practices (i.e., coordinating and adjusting instruction for connection to students’ lives and analyzing instruction for the purpose of improving it) aimed at supporting teachers in understanding the significance of belonging beyond simply building classroom community, and in becoming aware of their power to promote belonging through their instructional choices and practices.
Many adolescent learners have difficulty understanding the relevance of mathematics for their lives. This problem is particularly pernicious among Black and Latino adolescents who often face cultural stigma that can affect their perceived value of mathematics. This study uses concurrent nested mixed methods, including structured classroom observations, a computerized cognitive assessment, and surveys, to explore this issue in 419 urban Black and Latino adolescents. The quantitative results revealed that teachers' math applications were associated with students’ value of mathematics and interacted with adolescent cognitive flexibility to predict students’ growth in valuing mathematics over the school year. Semistructured qualitative interviews among a subset of students (n=37) corroborated the quantitative findings, but also revealed three themes that extended the quantitative results, uncovering racialized facets of valuing mathematics: utility orientations, alternative messengers, and resisting stigma and protecting collective identity. Altogether, these results demonstrated the role real-world applications, race, and adolescent cognition can have in urban mathematics classrooms. These findings suggest teachers’ sensitivity to these issues can support Black and Latino adolescents’ persistence in mathematics and understanding of self.
There are large racial disparities in school discipline in the United States, which, for Black students, not only contribute to school failure but also can lay a path toward incarceration. Although the disparities have been well documented, the psychological mechanisms underlying them are unclear. In two experiments, we tested the hypothesis that such disparities are, in part, driven by racial stereotypes that can lead teachers to escalate their negative responses to Black students over the course of multiple interpersonal (e.g., teacher-to-student) encounters. More generally, we argue that race not only can influence how perceivers interpret a specific behavior, but also can enhance perceivers’ detection of behavioral patterns across time. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and practical benefits of employing this novel approach to stereotyping across a range of real-world settings.
This article is guided by two goals: (a) to consider how race-based perspectives can serve as theoretical tools for investigating Black adolescents’ opportunities to belong at school, and (b) to describe cultural and political aspects of schooling that can support a sense of belongingness among Black adolescents. We discuss support for the belonging of Black adolescents in terms of interpersonal, instructional, and institutional opportunity structures. We provide a set of guiding questions for scholars seeking to advance educational psychology research at the intersection of race, belonging, and motivation. We end by describing specific research directions for an inclusive examination of school belonging, along with strategies to accomplish this goal.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Geoff Cohen and Tanner LeBaron Wallace. In this project, the researchers examined how teachers weave messages of growth, belonging, purpose, and affirmation (or their opposite) into their day-to-day practice, as well as whether creating learning environments that may support adaptive learning mindsets through these verbal messages is related to teachers’ ability to promote gains in students’ math achievement.
The snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and Camille Farrington. This project was designed to leverage data collected from a longitudinal, cross-cultural project on the social-emotional brain development of adolescents from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The researchers explored how students’ neurobiological predispositions in social-emotional processing interact with their learning environments (i.e., community and family) and cultural influences to shape their social functioning over time.
The snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Mesmin Destin. This project examines the relationships between socioeconomic status and adaptive learning mindsets and offers the first estimate of the degree to which perceptions about the nature of intelligence (growth/fixed mindset) are related to both socioeconomic status and academic performance among high school students in the U.S.
The snapshot shares key findings, information on the interdisciplinary research team, and insights and future directions for the project.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Christopher Hulleman and Stephanie Wormington. The project explored whether students’ learning mindsets as they enter college are related to their academic success during the first two years of school.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Matthew Kraft. The project leveraged a large sample of students in the California CORE districts to examine how feelings of belonging in school affect academic, behavioral, and social-emotional experiences and outcomes.
This infographic describes how teachers can create learning environments that can support growth-oriented messages.
This research snapshot provides an overview of an MSN funded project led by Sidney D'Mello. The project explores how mindsets and other psychological factors can help us to understand what contributes to students’ likelihood of graduating from college and how are these relationships influenced by environmental contexts.
This research summary brief provides an overview of a paper by Greg Walton and Tim Wilson, exploring how wise interventions can improve outcomes and implications for policy and practice across a broad range of domains. The brief shares a background on what wise interventions are, how they work, and the ways they can be used to improve outcomes.
People are often told to find their passion as though passions and interests are pre-formed and must simply be discovered. This idea, however, has hidden motivational implications. Five studies examined implicit theories of interest—the idea that personal interests are relatively fixed (fixed theory) or developed (growth theory). Whether assessed or experimentally induced, a fixed theory was more likely to dampen interest in areas outside people’s existing interests (Studies 1–3). Those endorsing a fixed theory were also more likely to anticipate boundless motivation when passions were found, not anticipating possible difficulties (Study 4). Moreover, when engaging in a new interest became difficult, interest flagged significantly more for people induced to hold a fixed than a growth theory of interest (Study 5). Urging people to find their passion may lead them to put all their eggs in one basket but then to drop that basket when it becomes difficult to carry.
Grades often decline during the high school transition, creating stress. The present research integrates the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat with the implicit theories model to understand who shows maladaptive stress responses. A diary study measured declines in grades in the first few months of high school: salivary cortisol and daily stress appraisals. Students who reported a fixed mindset showed higher cortisol when grades were declining. Moreover, daily academic stressors showed a different lingering effect on the next day's cortisol for those with different implicit theories. Findings support a process model through which beliefs affect biological stress responses during difficult adolescent transitions.
Praise for process, which includes praising students’ level of effort and effective strategies, has shown promise in improving students’ motivation to learn. However, parents and teachers may interpret this to mean that solely praising students’ effort level is sufficient. Although praise for effort is effective in some respects in early childhood, it often stops working and even backfires by adolescence. In this article, we explain these findings developmentally.
The research team suggests that effort praise can communicate that effort is a path to improving ability, but can also imply that the student needs to work hard because of low innate ability. They propose that adolescents are at greater risk for interpreting the praise in the second way because secondary schools often value innate ability more than effort and adolescents are conscious of ability stereotypes.
Social psychological theorizing on prejudice and discrimination, which largely focuses on tangible or verifiable content of people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions toward a group (what the research team terms commissions), falls short in capturing the nature of prejudice and discrimination directed toward Native Americans. Utilizing the literature on the prevalence, content, and consequences of representations of Native Americans, the research team argue that aspects of the world that are invisible or intentionally left out of the public conscious, what they refer to as omissions, hold important meaning for both Native and non-Native individuals. The researchers propose that a framework of bias that incorporates both omissions and commissions will enrich our understanding of bias, prejudice, and discrimination and better elucidate the experiences of groups that are historically underrepresented and underserved by social science.
This article reviews the psychological barriers faced by low-SES students in higher education compared to high-SES students. It first reviews the psychological barriers faced by low-SES students in university contexts (in terms of emotional experiences, identity management, self-perception, and motivation). Second, the research team highlights the role that university contexts play in producing and reproducing these psychological barriers, as well as the performance gap observed between low- and high-SES students. Finally, they present three examples of psychological interventions that can potentially increase both the academic achievement and the quality of low-SES students’ experience and thus may be considered as methods for change.
Understanding the sources of the social class achievement gap in education is an important step toward ensuring that education serves its purpose as an engine of social mobility. This article provides a brief overview of the sources of the social class achievement gap as well as interventions aimed at closing this gap. The researchers outline three major sources of the social class achievement gap — individual skills, structural conditions, and people’s processes of meaning-making, or construals — and the interventions that target them. While all of these interventions can effect change, we propose that interventions will be most effective when tailored to fit the specific needs of students and the context in which they are delivered.
Research by psychologists and economists demonstrates that many non-cognitive skills are malleable in both children and adolescents, but we have limited knowledge on what schools can do to foster these skills. In a field experiment, the research team investigates how schools can increase students’ perseverance in math by shaping students’ beliefs in their abilities to learn, a concept referred to by psychologists as “mindset.” Using protocols adapted from psychology, the team experimentally manipulates students’ beliefs in their ability to learn. Three weeks after the treatment, they find persistent treatment effects on students’ perseverance and academic performance in math. When investigating subsamples, they find that students, who prior to the experiment had less of a belief in their ability to learn, generate the treatment effect. The findings suggest that a low-cost intervention focused on students’ mindset can improve students’ engagement and performance.
This article provides an overview of research by Andrei Cimpian and Sarah-Jane Leslie on how stereotypes about intelligence can negatively influence women and minorities in certain academic fields. They also discuss how mindset interventions and developing learning mindsets offer one way to offset these negative effects.
Pervasive cultural stereotypes associate brilliance with men, not women. Given these stereotypes, messages suggesting that a career requires brilliance may undermine women’s interest. Consistent with this hypothesis, linking success to brilliance lowered women’s (but not men’s) interest in a range of educational and professional opportunities introduced via hypothetical scenarios. It also led women more than men to expect that they would feel anxious and would not belong. These gender differences were explained in part by women’s perception that they are different from the typical person in these contexts. In sum, the present research reveals that certain messages—in particular, those suggesting that brilliance is essential to success—may contribute to the gender gaps that are present in many fields.
During high school, developing competence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is critically important as preparation to pursue STEM careers, yet students in the United States lag behind other countries, ranking 35th in mathematics and 27th in science achievement internationally. Given the importance of STEM careers as drivers of modern economies, this deficiency in preparation for STEM careers threatens the United States’ continued economic progress.
In the present study, the research team evaluated the long-term effects of a theory-based intervention designed to help parents convey the importance of mathematics and science courses to their high-school–aged children. A prior report on this intervention showed that it promoted STEM course-taking in high school; in the current follow-up study, the researchers found that the intervention improved mathematics and science standardized test scores on a college preparatory examination (ACT) for adolescents by 12 percentile points. Greater high-school STEM preparation (STEM course-taking and ACT scores) was associated with increased STEM career pursuit (i.e., STEM career interest, the number of college STEM courses, and students’ attitudes toward STEM) 5 years after the intervention. These results suggest that the intervention can affect STEM career pursuit indirectly by increasing high-school STEM preparation. This finding underscores the importance of targeting high-school STEM preparation to increase STEM career pursuit.
The pipeline toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) begins to leak in high school, when some students choose not to take advanced mathematics and science courses. The research team conducted a field experiment testing whether a theory-based intervention that was designed to help parents convey the importance of mathematics and science courses to their high school–aged children would lead them to take more mathematics and science courses in high school. The three-part intervention consisted of two brochures mailed to parents and a Web site, all highlighting the usefulness of STEM courses. This relatively simple intervention led students whose parents were in the experimental group to take, on average, nearly one semester more of science and mathematics in the last 2 years of high school, compared with the control group. Parents are an untapped resource for increasing STEM motivation in adolescents, and the results demonstrate that motivational theory can be applied to this important pipeline problem.
This research synthesis provides an overview of how insights from mindset science can inform the design of educational environments in K-12 and postsecondary education. It describes how students' psychological experience of school shapes their motivation to learn and their learning outcomes. The brief distills principles from 40 years of research on mindsets and motivation about how of learning environments can be designed to be inclusive, growth-oriented, and meaningful.
Although women have nearly attained equality with men in several formerly male-dominated fields, they remain underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The researchers argue that one important reason for this discrepancy is that STEM careers are perceived as less likely than careers in other fields to fulfill communal goals (e.g., working with or helping other people). Such perceptions might disproportionately affect women’s career decisions, because women tend to endorse communal goals more than men. As predicted, the research team found that STEM careers, relative to other careers, were perceived to impede communal goals. Moreover, communal-goal endorsement negatively predicted interest in STEM careers, even when controlling for past experience and self-efficacy in science and mathematics. Understanding how communal goals influence people’s interest in STEM fields thus provides a new perspective on the issue of women’s representation in STEM careers.
This paper theorizes that academic interventions will be maximally effective when they are culturally grounded. Culturally grounded interventions acknowledge cultural differences and validate multiple cultural models in a given context. This review highlights the importance of considering culture in academic interventions and draws upon the culture cycle framework to provide a blueprint for those interested in building more efficacious interventions.
Specifically, the paper reviews literature in education and psychology to argue: 1) when working-class and racial minority students’ cultural models are not valued in mainstream academic domains, these students underperform; and 2) many current academic interventions intended to improve working-class and racial minority students’ academic outcomes could be further enhanced by cultural grounding.
Research has focused predominantly on how teachers affect students’ achievement on tests despite evidence that a broad range of attitudes and behaviors are equally important to their long-term success. The research teams finds that upper-elementary teachers have large effects on self-reported measures of students’ self-efficacy in math, and happiness and behavior in class. Students’ attitudes and behaviors are predicted by teaching practices most proximal to these measures, including teachers’ emotional support and classroom organization.
However, teachers who are effective at improving test scores often are not equally effective at improving students’ attitudes and behaviors. These findings lend empirical evidence to well-established theory on the multidimensional nature of teaching and the need to identify strategies for improving the full range of teachers’ skills.
Adolescents may especially need social and emotional help. They’re learning how to handle new demands in school and social life while dealing with new, intense emotions (both positive and negative), and they’re increasingly feeling that they should do so without adult guidance. Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are one way to help them navigate these difficulties.In reviewing programs, the author finds that effective universal SEL can transform adolescents’ lives for the better. Less encouragingly, typical SEL programs—which directly teach skills and invite participants to rehearse those skills over the course of many classroom lessons—have a poor track record with middle adolescents (roughly age 14 to 17), even though they work well with children.
However, some programs stand out for their effectiveness with adolescents. Rather than teaching them skills, Yeager finds, effective programs for adolescents focus on mindsets and climate. Harnessing adolescents’ developmental motivations, such programs aim to make them feel respected by adults and peers and offer them the chance to gain status and admiration in the eyes of people whose opinions they value.
This paper provides a developmental science-based perspective on two related issues: Why traditional preventative school-based interventions work reasonably well for children, but less so for middle adolescents, and why some alternative intervention approaches show promise for middle adolescents. The authors propose the hypothesis that traditional interventions fail when they do not align with adolescents’ enhanced desire to feel respected and be accorded status; however, interventions that do align with this desire can motivate internalized, positive behavior change.
The paper reviews examples of promising interventions that directly harness the desire for status and respect, provide adolescents with more respectful treatment from adults, or lessen the negative influence of threats to status and respect. These examples are in the domains of unhealthy snacking, middle school discipline, and high school aggression. Discussion centers on implications for basic developmental science and for improvements to youth policy and practice.
Adolescents may especially need social and emotional help. They’re learning how to handle new demands in school and social life while dealing with new, intense emotions (both positive and negative), and they’re increasingly feeling that they should do so without adult guidance. Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are one way to help them navigate these difficulties.In reviewing programs, the author finds that effective universal SEL can transform adolescents’ lives for the better. Less encouragingly, typical SEL programs—which directly teach skills and invite participants to rehearse those skills over the course of many classroom lessons—have a poor track record with middle adolescents (roughly age 14 to 17), even though they work well with children.
However, some programs stand out for their effectiveness with adolescents. Rather than teaching them skills, Yeager finds, effective programs for adolescents focus on mindsets and climate. Harnessing adolescents’ developmental motivations, such programs aim to make them feel respected by adults and peers and offer them the chance to gain status and admiration in the eyes of people whose opinions they value.
In this paper, Matthew Kraft uses the random assignment of class rosters in the MET Project to estimate teacher effects on students’ performance on complex open-ended tasks in math and reading, as well as their growth mindset, grit, and effort in class. The findings suggested large teacher effects across this expanded set of outcomes, but weak relationships between these effects and performance measures used in current teacher evaluation systems including value-added to state standardized tests. These findings suggest teacher effectiveness is multidimensional and high-stakes evaluation decisions are only weakly informed by the degree to which teachers are developing students’ complex cognitive skills and social-emotional competencies.
Minority and majority elementary school students from a Native American reservation completed tests of academic self-concepts and self-esteem. School grades, attendance, and classroom behavior were collected. Both minority and majority students exhibited positive self-esteem. Minority students demonstrated lower academic self-concepts and lower achievement than majority students. Two age-related patterns emerged. First, minority students had lower academic achievement than majority students, and this effect was stronger in older (Grades 3–5) than in younger (Grades K–2) students. Second, children's actual achievement was related to their academic self-concepts for older students but more strongly linked to self-esteem in younger students. The authors offer a developmental account connecting students’ developing self-representations to their school achievement.
The economic decline of the Great Recession has increased the need for a university degree, which can enhance individuals’ prospects of obtaining employment in a competitive, globalized market. Research in the social sciences has consistently demonstrated that students with low socioeconomic status (SES) have fewer opportunities to succeed in university contexts compared to students with high SES. The present article reviews the psychological barriers faced by low-SES students in higher education compared to high-SES students. Accordingly, we first review the psychological barriers faced by low-SES students in university contexts (in terms of emotional experiences, identity management, self-perception, and motivation).
The researchers highlight the role that university contexts play in producing and reproducing these psychological barriers, as well as the performance gap observed between low- and high-SES students. They also present three examples of psychological interventions that can potentially increase both the academic achievement and the quality of low-SES students’ experience and thus may be considered as methods for change.
Carol Dweck's career has been devoted to understanding the nature, workings, and development of children's motivation. This paper outlines the trajectory of her research including research on motivation in animals; the motivational impact of children's attributions, achievement goals, and mindsets about their abilities; how socialization practices affect these mindsets; how interventions that change children's mindsets can enhance their motivation and learning. In addition, she outlines a new theory that puts motivation and the formation of mindsets (or beliefs) at the heart of social and personality development.
It is generally acknowledged that engagement plays a critical role in learning. Unfortunately, the study of engagement has been stymied by a lack of valid and efficient measures. The research team introduces the advanced, analytic, and automated (AAA) approach to measure engagement at fine-grained temporal resolutions. The AAA measurement approach is grounded in embodied theories of cognition and affect, which advocate a close coupling between thought and action. It uses machine-learned computational models to automatically infer mental states associated with engagement (e.g., interest, flow) from machine-readable behavioral and physiological signals (e.g., facial expressions, eye tracking, click-stream data) and from aspects of the environmental context.
The researchers present 15 case studies that illustrate the potential of the AAA approach for measuring engagement in digital learning environments. The paper discusses strengths and weaknesses of the AAA approach, concluding that it has significant promise to catalyze engagement research.
While the underrepresentation of women in the fast-growing STEM field of computer science (CS) has been much studied, no consensus exists on the key factors influencing this widening gender gap. This study contributes to this literature by applying student engagement research to study the experiences of college students studying CS, to assess the degree to which differences in men and women's engagement may help account for gender inequity in the field.
The research team uses the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) to evaluate in real-time the engagement of college students during varied activities and environments. Over the course of a full week in fall semester and a full week in spring semester, students majoring in CS at two research universities were “beeped” several times a day via a smartphone app prompting them to fill out a short questionnaire including open-ended and scaled items. These responses were paired with administrative and over 2 years of transcript data provided by their institutions. Results suggest that despite the obstacles associated with women's underrepresentation in computer science, women are more likely to continue taking computer science courses when they felt challenged and skilled in their initial computer science classes.
Despite facing daunting odds of academic success compared with their more socioeconomically advantaged peers, many students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds maintain high levels of academic motivation and persist in the face of difficulty. The researchers propose that for these students, academic persistence may hinge on their perceptions of socioeconomic mobility, or their general beliefs regarding whether or not socioeconomic mobility—a powerful academic motivator—can occur in their society. Specifically, low-SES students' desire to persist on a primary path to mobility (i.e., school) should remain strong if they believe that socioeconomic mobility can occur in their society. By contrast, those who believe that socioeconomic mobility generally does not occur should be less motivated to persist academically. One correlational and two experimental studies provide support for this hypothesis among low (but not high) SES high school and university students. Implications for future intervention efforts are discussed.
This article examines the impacts of the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC), a statewide college preparatory curriculum that applies to the high school graduating class of 2011 and later. The analyses suggest that the higher expectations embodied in the MMC had slight impact on student outcomes. Looking at student performance in the ACT, the only clear evidence of a change in academic performance comes in science.
This study examined student and teacher attitudes and beliefs about growth mindset, performance avoidance (hiding one’s effort or refraining from making an effort due to concerns of failure or embarrassment), and academic behaviors (such as completing homework and participating in class) in Nevada’s Clark County School District. Most students reported beliefs that are consistent with a growth mindset. Students’ reported levels of growth mindset, performance avoidance, and academic behaviors differed significantly by grade level, prior academic achievement, English learner status, and race/ethnicity. By contrast, for the most part teachers’ beliefs did not vary significantly according to the characteristics of the students in their schools.
Psychological research on socioeconomic status (SES) has grown significantly over the past decade. In this article, the researchers build upon and integrate existing approaches to direct greater attention toward investigating the subjective meaning and value that people attach to understanding their own SES as an identity. Drawing from multiple areas of research on identity, the researchers suggest that even temporary shifts in how people construe their status-based identities predict changes in thought, affect, motivation, and behavior.
This novel focus is positioned to examine the psychological effects of status transitions (e.g., upward or downward mobility). Further, in initial empirical work, we introduce a new measure to assess uncertainty regarding one’s SES (i.e., status-based identity uncertainty) and offer evidence that greater uncertainty regarding one’s status-based identity is associated with lower individual well-being. In sum, we argue that insight from the literature on identity will both expand and serve to organize the burgeoning literature on the psychology of SES and, in so doing, reveal promising new directions for research.
tags: identity threat
Despite a growing number of brief, psychosocial interventions that improve academic achievement, little research investigates how to leverage parents during such efforts. The research team designed and tested a randomized controlled intervention targeting parents to influence important discussions about the future and responses to academic difficulty experienced by their adolescent during eighth grade in the United States. Experienced parents were recruited to convey the main messages of the intervention in a parent panel format. As expected, current parents who were randomly assigned to observe the parent panel subsequently planned to talk with their adolescents sooner about future opportunities and to respond more positively to experiences of academic difficulty than parents who were randomly assigned to a control group. The intervention also led to a significant increase in student grades, which was mediated by parents’ responses to academic difficulty.
This study tested the protective effects of self-affirmation for students who have the subjective sense that they do not belong in college. Such a feeling is not as visible as race or gender but, as a pervasive part of the students' inner world, might still be as debilitating to the students' academic performance. Among a predominantly White sample of college undergraduates, students who felt a low sense of belonging declined in grade point average (GPA) over three semesters. In contrast, students who reported low belonging, but affirmed their core values in a lab-administered self-affirmation writing activity, gained in GPA over time, with the effect of affirmation sufficiently strong to yield a main effect among the sample as a whole. The affirmation intervention mitigated—and even reversed—the decline in GPA among students with a low sense of belonging in college, providing support for self-affirmation theory's contention that affirmations of personal integrity can lessen psychological threat regardless of its source.
For decades, increasing intergroup contact has been the preferred method for improving cooperation between groups. However, even proponents of this approach acknowledge that intergroup contact may not be effective in the context of intractable conflicts. One question is whether anything can be done to increase the impact of intergroup contact on cooperation. In the present study, the research team tested whether changing perceptions of group malleability in a pre-encounter intervention could increase the degree of cooperation during contact encounters. Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli adolescents were randomly assigned either to a condition that taught that groups are malleable or to a coping, control condition. During a subsequent intergroup encounter, the researchers used two behavioral tasks to estimate the levels of cooperation. Results indicated that relative to controls, participants in the group malleability condition showed enhanced cooperation. These findings suggest new avenues for enhancing the impact of contact in the context of intractable conflicts.
tags: experimental study
What can be done to reduce unhealthy eating among adolescents? The research team hypothesized that aligning healthy eating with important and widely shared adolescent values would produce the needed motivation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled experiment with eighth graders evaluated the impact of a treatment that framed healthy eating as consistent with the adolescent values of autonomy from adult control and the pursuit of social justice. Healthy eating was suggested as a way to take a stand against manipulative and unfair practices of the food industry, such as engineering junk food to make it addictive and marketing it to young children. Compared with traditional health education materials or to a non–food-related control, this treatment led eighth graders to see healthy eating as more autonomy-assertive and social justice oriented behavior and to forgo sugary snacks and drinks in favor of healthier options a day later in an unrelated context. Public health interventions for adolescents may be more effective when they harness the motivational power of that group’s existing strongly held values.
This research tested a social-developmental process model of trust discernment. From sixth to eighth grade, White and African American students were surveyed twice yearly. African American students were more aware of racial bias in school disciplinary decisions, and as this awareness grew it predicted a loss of trust in school, leading to a large trust gap in seventh grade. Loss of trust by spring of seventh grade predicted African Americans' subsequent discipline infractions and 4-year college enrollment. Causality was confirmed with a trust-restoring "wise feedback" treatment delivered in spring of seventh grade that improved African Americans' eighth-grade discipline and college outcomes. Correlational findings were replicated with Latino and White students.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been discussed as a key to increasing educational equity and bridging divides within and across countries. However, the use of these courses reflects prevailing educational disparities, with more affluent participants enrolling and completing courses. In this study, the researchers randomly assigned participants to receive brief online exercises aimed to lessen social identity threat alongside their course. These interventions increased persistence for participants in less-developed countries and eliminated the global achievement gap.
How do mindsets matter in the field of medicine and public health? This article provides an overview of the research that has been done in this field so far and the ways that implementing mindset science into medical practice could provide new means by which pediatricians may improve the lives of children.
This research brief overviews a study by Andrei Cimpian and his colleagues, exploring the development of stereotypes about intelligence. The research team conducted multiple studies to assess the developmental trajectory of the endorsement of gender stereotypes among young children between the ages of 5 and 7. They found that by the age of 6, girls were less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really, really smart” and were less likely to participate in activities labeled for children that were very smart.
This research brief discusses the findings from a study by Matthew Kraft and his colleagues. In this study the team analyzed data from New York City Public Schools to explore how dimensions of school climate related to teacher turnover and student achievement. They found that improvements in all four dimensions of school climate measured in the study (leadership, expectations, collaboration, and safety) were associated with reductions in teacher turnover and that as schools improved their climate, students had increased academic gains.
The research team studies the relationship between school organizational contexts, teacher turnover, and student achievement in New York City (NYC) middle schools. Using factor analysis, they construct measures of four distinct dimensions of school climate captured on the annual NYC School Survey. They then identify credible estimates by isolating variation in organizational contexts within schools over time. The team finds that improvements in school leadership especially, as well as in academic expectations, teacher relationships, and school safety are all independently associated with corresponding reductions in teacher turnover. Increases in school safety and academic expectations also correspond with student achievement gains. These results are robust to a range of threats to validity suggesting that their findings are consistent with an underlying causal relationship.
Common stereotypes associate high-level intellectual ability (brilliance, genius, etc.) with men more than women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers; that is, women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance (such as physics and philosophy). In this paper, the research team shows that these stereotypes are endorsed by, and influence the interests of, children as young as 6. Specifically, 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are “really, really smart.” Also at age 6, girls begin to avoid activities said to be for children who are “really, really smart.” These findings suggest that gendered notions of brilliance are acquired early and have an immediate effect on children’s interests.
The research team theorizes that social group members’ numerical representation in an organization, compared with the majority group, influences concerns about their distinctiveness, and consequently, whether diversity approaches are effective. They combine laboratory and field methods to evaluate this theory in a professional setting, in which White women are moderately represented and Black individuals are represented in very small numbers. The team demonstrates that Black individuals report greater representation-based concerns than White women (Study 1). Next, they observe that tailoring diversity approaches to these concerns yields greater performance and persistence (Studies 2 and 3). The researchers then manipulated social groups’ perceived representation and find that highlighting differences (vs. equality) is more effective when groups’ representation is moderate, but less effective when groups’ representation is very low (Study 4). Finally, the team content-codes the diversity statements of 151 major U.S. law firms and find that firms that emphasize differences have lower attrition rates among White women, whereas firms that emphasize equality have lower attrition rates among racial minorities (Study 5).
The current longitudinal study draws on identity based and expectancy-value theories of motivation to explain the SES and mathematics and science course-taking relationship. This was done by gathering reports from students and their parents about their expectations, values, and future identities for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics beginning in middle school through age 20. Results showed that parental education predicted mathematics and science course taking in high school and college, and this relationship was partially mediated by students’ and parents’ future identity and motivational beliefs concerning mathematics and science. These findings suggest that psychological interventions may be useful for reducing social class gaps in STEM course taking, which has critical implications for the types of opportunities and careers available to students.
The studies outlined in this paper investigated (a) individual differences in Whites' awareness of their propensity to express subtly biased behavior against Blacks in interracial contexts (Study 1), (b) the convergent and discriminant validity of a new individual difference measure of bias awareness (Studies 1, 2, and 3), (c) whether this measure uniquely predicts Whites' responses to a difficult race-related context—receiving feedback that they are high in implicit bias from an Implicit Association Test (R-IAT; Study 2), and (d) whether this measure uniquely predicts Whites' perceptions of others' racial bias, particularly subtle expressions (Study 3). Results revealed that the Bias Awareness Scale measures a distinct construct that uniquely predicts Whites' emotional and behavioral responses to information about their own bias, and their ability to detect bias in others.
In a previous study of 2 schools in England that taught mathematics very differently, researchers found that a project-based mathematics approach resulted in higher achievement, greater understanding, and more appreciation of mathematics than a traditional approach. In this follow-up study, participants in the first study were contacted and interviewed 8 years after they had left the 2 schools to investigate their knowledge use in life. This showed that the young adults who had experienced the 2 mathematics teaching approaches developed profoundly different relationships with mathematics knowledge that contributed towards the shaping of different identities as learners and users of mathematics. The adults from the project-based school had also moved into significantly more professional jobs, despite living in one of the lowest income areas of the country. In this article, we consider the different opportunities that the 2 school approaches offered for longterm relationships with mathematics and different forms of mathematical expertise that are differentially useful in the 21st century.
This response letter outlines the difference between authentic replication of psychological studies and inauthentic attempts that may not accurately represent the full study it's attempting to replicate.
In this paper the research team discuss two studies that explore the effects of connecting classroom content to students' lives. First, the research team replicated prior work by demonstrating that the utility value intervention, which manipulated whether students made connections between the course material and their lives, increased both interest and performance of low-performing students in a college general education course. In Study 2, the team manipulated connection frequency by developing an enhanced utility value intervention designed to increase the frequency with which students made connections. The results indicated that students randomly assigned to either utility value intervention, compared with the control condition, subsequently became more confident that they could learn the material, which led to increased course performance. The utility value interventions were particularly effective for the lowest-performing students.
The Mindset Scholars Network recently launched a new initiative to fund interdisciplinary projects that explore how learning environments shape the mindsets students develop about learning and school.
This brief provides an overview of the eight projects that were funded, including the research team, team disciplines, and primary research questions.
This research brief summarizes a study from Mindset Scholars on the effectiveness of short, computer-based learning mindset programs on academic achievement for high school students.
This Research Brief presents findings from the first year pilot of the National Mindset Study, conducted by members of the Mindset Scholars Network and colleagues. The pilot study found that the program improved academic performance for previously low-performing students and increased challenge-seeking among all students.
In this study the research team uses a nationwide sample of high school students from Chile to investigate how these factors interact on a systemic level. Confirming prior research, they find that family income is a strong predictor of achievement. Extending prior research, they find that a growth mindset (the belief that intelligence is not fixed and can be developed) is a comparably strong predictor of achievement and that it exhibits a positive relationship with achievement across all of the socioeconomic strata in the country. Furthermore, they find that students from lower-income families were less likely to hold a growth mindset than their wealthier peers, but those who did hold a growth mindset were appreciably buffered against the deleterious effects of poverty on achievement. These results suggest that students’ mindsets may temper or exacerbate the effects of economic disadvantage on a systemic level.
The research team examined whether culture-relevant affirmations that focus on family (i.e., family affirmation) would enhance performance for Latino students compared to affirmations that focus on the individual (i.e., self-affirmation).
In Study 1, Latino middle school students exposed to a family affirmation outperformed Latino students exposed to a self-affirmation. In Study 2, Latino college students exposed to a family affirmation outperformed Latino students exposed to a self-affirmation and outperformed European American students across conditions. European American students performed equally well across conditions. The findings suggest that culture provides a meaningful framework for developing effective classroom strategies.
One contributing factor to gaps in academic achievement may be that some students perceive long-term educational goals, such as college, as financially out of reach, which can make schoolwork feel meaningless even several years before college. However, information that leads students to perceive that the financial path to college is open for them (i.e., need-based financial aid) can increase school motivation.
Two classroom-based field experiments expand this area of theory and research. Early adolescent students who were randomly assigned to receive information about need-based financial aid (open path condition) showed greater school motivation than those who were randomly assigned to a control condition, specifically if they came from low-asset households. In a second exploratory experiment, the open path effect was mediated by an increased likelihood that students envision a future career that includes college (education-dependent identity). Implications for the study of identity and disparities in academic achievement are discussed.
The extent to which socially-assigned and culturally mediated social identity affects health depends on contingencies of social identity that vary across and within populations in day-to-day life. These contingencies are structurally rooted and health damaging inasmuch as they activate physiological stress responses. They also have adverse effects on cognition and emotion, undermining self-confidence and diminishing academic performance. This impact reduces opportunities for social mobility, while ensuring those who "beat the odds" pay a physical price for their positive efforts. Recent applications of social identity theory toward closing racial, ethnic, and gender academic achievement gaps through changing features of educational settings, rather than individual students, have proved fruitful.
The researchers explicate an emergent framework, Jedi Public Health (JPH). JPH focuses on changing features of settings in everyday life, rather than individuals, to promote population health equity, a high priority, yet, elusive national public health objective. Policies and interventions to remove and replace discrediting cues in everyday settings hold promise for disrupting the repeated physiological stress process activation that fuels population health inequities with potentially wide application.
tags: mindset research
The number of students who leave U.S. schools mathematically underprepared has prompted widespread concern. Low achieving students, many of whom have been turned off mathematics, are often placed in low tracks and given remedial, skills-oriented work. This study examines a different approach wherein heterogeneous groups of students were given responsibility and agency and asked to engage in a range of mathematical practices collaboratively. The teaching intervention, which was introduced in the first paper, took place as part of a summer class on algebra, and it gave students the opportunity to participate with mathematics in changed ways. This paper will report evidence that the vast majority responded with increased engagement, achievement, and enjoyment. The students chose collaboration and agency as critical to their improved relationships with mathematics.
In the context of concerns about American youths' failure to take advanced math and science (MS) courses in high school, we examined mothers' communication with their adolescent about taking MS courses. At ninth grade, U.S. mothers were interviewed about their responses to hypothetical questions from their adolescent about the usefulness of algebra, geometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics. Responses were coded for elaboration and making personal connections to the adolescent. The number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses taken in 12th grade was obtained from school records. Mothers' use of personal connections predicted adolescents' MS interest and utility value, as well as actual MS course-taking. Parents can play an important role in motivating their adolescent to take MS courses.
This research integrated implicit theories of personality and the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat, hypothesizing that adolescents would be more likely to conclude that they can meet the demands of an evaluative social situation when they were taught that people have the potential to change their socially relevant traits. Participants who received incremental interventions incremental-theory participants exhibited improved stress appraisals, more adaptive neuroendocrine and cardiovascular responses, and better performance outcomes. Students who received the intervention also had better grades over freshman year than those who did not. These findings offer new avenues for improving theories of adolescent stress and coping.
This study explores how often students are engaged in their science classes and their affective states during these times. The researchers worked with 7,000 high school students in the United States and Finland. Results show that when students are challenged in their classes and are appropriately skilled they are more likely to feel confident, successful, and happy during specific science classes as well as in other academic classes. When students experience more times of optimal learning in their science classes they are more likely to report that they perceive science as important to them and their futures. Females, however, report being more stressed in their science classes than males.
The links between growth mindset and achievement received important new validation from a first-of-its-kind study by Mindset Scholars Carol Dweck and Dave Paunesku and Stanford education researcher Susana Claro. In this study the research team surveyed all 10th grade students in Chile, allowing them to use a national data set to explore the relationships between mindsets, academic achievement, and family income.
Children’s intelligence mind-sets (i.e., their beliefs about whether intelligence is fixed or malleable) robustly influence their motivation and learning. Yet, surprisingly, research has not linked parents’ intelligence mind-sets to their children’s. We tested the hypothesis that a different belief of parents—their failure mind-sets—may be more visible to children and therefore more prominent in shaping their beliefs. Overall, parents who see failure as debilitating focus on their children’s performance and ability rather than on their children’s learning, and their children, in turn, tend to believe that intelligence is fixed rather than malleable.
This research brief looks into how parent practices affect children’s mindsets. Kyla Haimovitz and Carol Dweck designed multiple studies to explore how the way parents view failure influences their children’s views on intelligence.
This research brief summarizes three studies that explore whether online exercises delivered before college can effectively prepare students for certain challenges they may face during the transition to college. The studies found that these programs were able to improve educational outcomes and decrease achievement gaps between African American, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, first-generation students and their peers.
Previous experiments have shown that college students benefit when they understand that challenges in the transition to college are common and improvable and, thus, that early struggles need not portend a permanent lack of belonging or potential. Could such an approach—called a lay theory intervention—be effective before college matriculation? The lay theory interventions raised first-year full-time college enrollment among students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds exiting a high-performing charter high school network or entering a public flagship university (experiments 1 and 2) and, at a selective private university, raised disadvantaged students’ cumulative first-year grade point average (experiment 3). These gains correspond to 31–40% reductions of the raw (unadjusted) institutional achievement gaps between students from disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged backgrounds at those institutions. Further, follow-up surveys suggest that the interventions improved disadvantaged students’ overall college experiences, promoting use of student support services and the development of friendship networks and mentor relationships.
Being suspended from school has been shown to have numerous detrimental long-term effects, as well, including adult unemployment and increased likelihood of incarceration. While there are many factors that influence student behavior, the quality of students’ relationships with their teachers is one of the strongest predictors of classroom behavior. Researchers Jason Okonofua, Dave Paunesku, and Gregory Walton explored whether a short program designed to influence teachers’ mindsets about student behavior and discipline could lead to changes in the way teachers interacted with students and whether these changes in teachers’ behavior could, in turn, positively affect students’ classroom experience and behavior.
Motivation is an important component of success in both the classroom and beyond. Researchers Rory Lazowski and Chris Hulleman completed an extensive meta-analysis to look at the effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing students' motivation. They found that overall motivation interventions are effective and can improve both levels of motivation along with academic performance and school attendance.
Many strides have been made to promote gender equity in the workplace, but women are still significantly under-represented in leadership roles in corporate America. Researchers Katherine T.U. Emerson & Mary C. Murphy designed three studies to observe how women's experiences at work are affected by mindsets promoted by the organizations.
Recommendations for the aggressive recruitment of minority teachers are based on hypothesized role-model effects for minority students as well as evidence of racial biases among non-minority teachers. However, prior empirical studies have found little or no association between exposure to an own-race teacher and student achievement. This paper presents new evidence on this question by examining the test score data from Tennessee's Project STAR class-size experiment, which randomly matched students and teachers within participating schools. Specification checks confirm that the racial pairings of students and teachers in this experiment were unrelated to other student traits. Models of student achievement indicate that assignment to an own-race teacher significantly increased the math and reading achievement of both black and white students.
Growing suspension rates predict major negative life outcomes, including adult incarceration and unemployment. The first experiment tested whether teachers could be encouraged to adopt an empathic rather than punitive mindset about discipline—to value students’ perspectives and sustain positive relationships while encouraging better behavior. The second tested whether an empathic response to misbehavior would sustain students’ respect for teachers and motivation to behave well in class. These hypotheses were confirmed. Finally, a randomized field experiment tested a brief, online intervention to encourage teachers to adopt an empathic mindset about discipline. Evaluated at five middle schools in three districts, this intervention halved year-long student suspension rates and bolstered respect the most at-risk students, previously suspended students, perceived from teachers. Teachers’ mindsets about discipline directly affect the quality of teacher– student relationships and student suspensions and, moreover, can be changed through scalable intervention.
Over the past 20 years, a large body of laboratory and field research has shown that, when people perform in settings in which their group is negatively stereotyped, they may experience a phenomenon called stereotype threat that can undermine motivation and trust and cause underperformance. This review describes that research and places it into an organizational context. First, the researchers describe the processes by which stereotype threat can impair outcomes among people in the workplace. Next, they delineate the situational cues in organizational settings that can exacerbate stereotype threat, and explain how and why these cues affect stereotyped individuals. Finally, they discuss relatively simple empirically based strategies that organizations can implement to reduce stereotype threat and create conditions in which employees and applicants from all groups can succeed.
Americans have long recognized that investments in public education contribute to the common good, enhancing national prosperity and supporting stable families, neighborhoods, and communities. Education is even more critical today, in the face of economic, environmental, and social challenges. Today's children can meet future challenges if their schooling and informal learning activities prepare them for adult roles as citizens, employees, managers, parents, volunteers, and entrepreneurs. To achieve their full potential as adults, young people need to develop a range of skills and knowledge that facilitate mastery and application of English, mathematics, and other school subjects. At the same time, business and political leaders are increasingly asking schools to develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management - often referred to as "21st century skills".
Amid growing recognition that strong academic skills alone are not enough for young people to become successful adults, this comprehensive report offers wide-ranging evidence to show what young people need to develop from preschool to young adulthood to succeed in college and career, have healthy relationships, be engaged citizens, and make wise choices. It concludes that rich experiences combining action and reflection help children develop a set of critical skills, attitudes, and behaviors. And it suggests that policies should aim to ensure that all children have consistent, supportive relationships and an abundance of these developmental experiences through activities inside and outside of school. The report offers evidence to show how, where, and when the "key factors" to success develop from early childhood through young adulthood, emphasizing the kinds of experiences and supportive relationships that guide the positive development of these factors.
Over the past 20 years, changes in the U.S. economy have raised the stakes for educational attainment, resulting in dire economic consequences for workers without a high school diploma and some college education. American adolescents have responded by dramatically increasing their educational aspirations; almost all high school students in the U.S. now say they expect to go to college. Recent research on noncognitive factors has not only suggested their importance for student academic performance but has also been used to argue that social investments in the development of these noncognitive factors would yield high payoffs in improved educational outcomes as well as reduced racial/ethnic and gender disparities in school performance and educational attainment.
An extensive theoretical and qualitative literature stresses the promise of instructional practices and content aligned with the cultural experiences of minority students. Ethnic studies courses provide a growing but controversial example of such “culturally relevant pedagogy.” However, the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these courses is limited. In this study, we estimate the causal effects of an ethnic studies curriculum piloted in several San Francisco high schools. We rely on a “fuzzy” regression discontinuity design based on the fact that several schools assigned students with eighth-grade GPAs below a threshold to take the course in ninth grade. Our results indicate that assignment to this course increased ninth-grade student attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23. These surprisingly large effects are consistent with the hypothesis that the course reduced dropout rates and suggest that culturally relevant teaching, when implemented in a supportive, high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students.
Can social-psychological theory provide insight into the extreme racial disparities in school disciplinary action in the United States? Disciplinary problems carry enormous consequences for the quality of students’ experience in school, opportunities to learn, and ultimate life outcomes. This burden falls disproportionately on students of color. Integrating research on stereotyping and on stigma, we theorize that bias and apprehension about bias can build on one another in school settings in a vicious cycle that undermines teacher-student relationships over time and exacerbates inequality. This approach is more comprehensive than accounts that consider the predicaments of either teachers or students alone but not the two in tandem; it complements nonpsychological approaches; and it gives rise to novel implications for policy and intervention. It also extends prior research on bias and stigmatization to provide a model for understanding the social-psychological bases of inequality more generally.
This paper presents a model where teacher effects on long-run outcomes reflect effects on both cognitive skills (measured by test-scores) and non-cognitive skills (measured by non-test-score outcomes). Consistent with the model, results from administrative data show that teachers have causal effects on skills not measured by testing, but reflected in absences, suspensions, grades, and on-time grade progression. Teacher effects on these non-test-score outcomes in 9th grade predict longer-run effects on high-school completion and proxies for college-going—above and beyond their effects on test scores. Effects on non-test-score outcomes are particularly important for English teachers for whom including effects on the non-test-score outcomes triples the predicable variability of teacher effects on longer-run outcomes.
tags: measurement & assessment
While women have made progress in recent years, only 20 percent of engineering students are female, and the proportion of women receiving degrees in the sciences and engineering in the United States lags that of other industrialized countries (National Center for Education Statistics, 1995). This underrepresentation of women may have serious implications for women’s returns to education and may relate to occupational segregation and earnings inequality by gender (Linda Loury, 1997). As the economy shifts to favor these more male-dominated ﬁelds, there is concern that women will not be prepared to succeed. Does the presence of faculty members of the same gender impact student interest in a subject? This paper answers this question by estimating how having a female faculty member in an initial course affects the likelihood that a female student will take additional credit hours or major in a particular subject.
Recent scientific evidence demonstrates both the incredible potential of the brain to grow and change and the powerful impact of growth mindset messages upon students’ attainment. Schooling practices, however, particularly in England, are based upon notions of fixed ability thinking which limits students’ attainment and increases inequality. This article reviews evidence for brain plasticity, the importance of mindset and the ways that mindset messages may be communicated through classroom and grouping practices.
The original components of the deeper learning framework represent important processes
and products of deeper learning instructional practices. What was missing from the
framework, however, were the motivational components that influence a student’s
engagement in learning. Why and under what conditions might students choose to employ
problem-solving skills or engage in collaborative work to meet a learning goal? The inclusion of academic mindsets in the deeper learning framework puts due emphasis on a crucial set of learning variables.
tags: learning mindsets
Achievement gaps may reflect the cognitive impairment thought to occur in evaluative settings (e.g., classrooms) where a stereotyped identity is salient (i.e., stereotype threat). This study presents an economic model of stereotype threat that reconciles prior evidence on how student effort and performance are influenced by this social-identity phenomenon. This study also presents empirical evidence from a framed field experiment in which students at a selective college were randomly assigned to a treatment that primed their awareness of a negatively stereotyped identity (i.e., student-athlete). This social-identity manipulation reduced the test-score performance of athletes relative to non-athletes by 12%. These negative performance effects were concentrated among male student-athletes who also responded to the social-identity manipulation by attempting to answer more questions.
The authors use nationally representative survey data and a research design that relies on contemporaneous within-student and within-teacher comparisons across two academic subjects to estimate how class size affects certain non-cognitive skills in middle school. Their results indicate that smaller eighth-grade classes are associated with improvements in several measures of school engagement, with effect sizes ranging from .05 to .09 and smaller effects persisting 2 years later. Patterns of selection on observed traits and falsification exercises suggest that these results accurately identify (or possibly understate) the causal effects of smaller classes. Given the estimated earnings impact of these non-cognitive skills, the implied internal rate of return from an eighth-grade class-size reduction is 4.6% overall, but 7.9% in urban schools.
tags: learning mindsets
A prominent class of explanations for the gender gaps in student outcomes focuses on the interactions between students and teachers. In this study, the researcher examines whether assignment to a same-gender teacher influences student achievement, teacher perceptions of student performance, and student engagement. This study’s identification strategy exploits a unique matched-pairs feature of a major longitudinal study, which provides contemporaneous data on student outcomes in two different subjects. Within-student comparisons indicate that assignment to a same-gender teacher significantly improves the achievement of both girls and boys as well as teacher perceptions of student performance and student engagement with the teacher’s subject.
This field-experimental study evaluates an intervention in which students complete a self-directed “self affirmation” exercise that encourages them to identify and reflect upon their core personal values. This within-classroom randomized trial was conducted among 2,500 7th and 8th graders from six Philadelphia-area middle schools during the 2008–09 and 2009–10 academic years. Although this study failed to replicate earlier findings indicating that the affirmation generated large increases in the academic performance of minority students, this treatment did lead to statistically significant improvements in the performance of the minority students in more supportive classroom environments. However, the treatment contrast also reduced the performance of female students in those settings.
To investigate the impact schools have on both academic performance and cognitive skills, the researchers related standardized achievement-test scores to measures of cognitive skills in a large sample of eighth-grade students attending traditional, exam, and charter public schools. Test scores and gains in test scores over time correlated with measures of cognitive skills. Despite wide variation in test scores across schools, differences in cognitive skills across schools were negligible after we controlled for fourth-grade test scores. Random offers of enrollment to oversubscribed charter schools resulted in positive impacts of such school attendance on math achievement but had no impact on cognitive skills. These findings suggest that schools that improve standardized achievement-test scores do so primarily through channels other than improving cognitive skills.
This paper examines the degree to which teachers help students develop non-cognitive skills needed to succeed in the labor market. The researchers leverage data from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project to estimate teacher effects on students’ performance on cognitively demanding open-ended tasks in math and reading, as well as their growth mindset, grit, and effort in class. Exploiting the random assignment of class rosters among sets of general elementary teachers in the same grades and schools, the research team found substantial variation in teacher effects on complex task performance and social-emotional measures. Effects are of similar magnitude to teacher effects on state standardized tests. The study shows that high-stakes decisions based on existing teacher performance measures largely fail to consider the degree to which teachers are developing the skills and competencies most in demand by employers.
The current research proposes that the extent to which a university is perceived as actively supporting versus passively neglecting students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds can influence low-SES students’ academic motivation and self-concepts. In Experiments 1 and 2, low-SES students exposed to cues suggestive of an institution’s warmth toward socioeconomic diversity demonstrated greater academic efficacy, expectations, and implicit associations with high academic achievement compared with those exposed to cues indicating institutional chilliness. Exploring the phenomenology underlying these effects, Experiment 3 demonstrated that warmth cues led low-SES students to perceive their socioeconomic background as a better match with the rest of the student body and to perceive the university as more socioeconomically diverse than did chilliness cues.
A correlational study and five experiments showed that experiencing or recalling situations associated with the devaluation of a social identity caused participants to endorse or engage in deviant actions, including stealing, cheating, and lying. The effect was driven by the tendency to construe social identity threats not as isolated incidents but as symbolic of the continuing devaluation and disrespectful treatment of one’s group. Supplementing sociological approaches to deviance and delinquency, the results suggest the relevance and utility of a social-psychological account.
The two studies reported here tested whether a classroom-based psychological intervention that benefited a few African American 7th graders could trigger emergent ecological effects that benefited their entire classrooms. Within a classroom, the greater the density of African American students who participated in the intervention exercise, the higher the grades of all classmates on average, regardless of their race or whether they participated in the intervention exercise. Benefits of treatment density were most pronounced among students with a history of poor performance. Results suggest that the benefits of psychological intervention do not end with the individual. Changed individuals can improve their social environments, and such improvements can benefit others regardless of whether they participated in the intervention. These findings have implications for understanding the emergence of ecological consequences from psychological processes.
Harackiewicz, Rozek, Hulleman, and Hyde (2012) documented an increase in adolescents’ STEM course-taking for students whose parents were assigned to a utility-value intervention in comparison to a control group. In this study, the researchers examined whether that intervention was equally effective for boys and girls and examined factors that moderate and mediate the effect of the intervention on adolescent outcomes. The intervention was most effective in increasing STEM course-taking for high-achieving daughters and low-achieving sons, whereas the intervention did not help low-achieving daughters (prior achievement measured in terms of grade point average in 9th-grade STEM courses). The results are consistent with a model in which parents’ utility value plays a causal role in affecting adolescents’ achievement behavior in the STEM domain. The findings also indicate that utility-value interventions with parents can be effective for low-achieving boys and for high-achieving girls but suggest modifications in their use with low-achieving girls.
Women and African Americans—groups targeted by negative stereotypes about their intellectual abilities—may be underrepresented in careers that prize brilliance and genius. A recent nationwide survey of academics provided initial support for this possibility. Fields whose practitioners believed that natural talent is crucial for success had fewer female and African American PhDs. The present study seeks to replicate this initial finding with a different, and arguably more naturalistic, measure of the extent to which brilliance and genius are prized within a field. The study found that fields in which the words “brilliant” and “genius” were used more frequently on RateMyProfessors.com also had fewer female and African American PhDs. The fact that this naturalistic measure of a field’s focus on brilliance predicted the magnitude of its gender and race gaps speaks to the tight link between ability beliefs and diversity.
There are many promising psychological interventions on the horizon, but there is no clear methodology for preparing them to be scaled up. Drawing on design thinking, the present research formalizes a methodology for redesigning and tailoring initial interventions. The researchers test the methodology using the case of fixed versus growth mindsets during the transition to high school. The current research provides a model for how to improve and scale interventions that begin to address pressing educational problems. It also provides insight into how to teach a growth mindset more effectively.
This paper examines the impacts of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, a statewide college preparatory curriculum that applies to the high school graduating class of 2008 and later. The researchers use a student, longitudinal database for all public school students in Michigan for the main analyses, and complement this with analyses from a state-year panel. The study employs several nonexperimental approaches, including a comparative interrupted time series and a synthetic control method. The analyses suggest that the higher expectations embodied in the MMC has had little impact on student outcomes.
Researchers Andrei Cimpian, Yan Mu, & Lucy Claire Erickson explore how young children's performance on a task is affected by statements about ability and group membership.
How well people bounce back from mistakes depends on their beliefs about learning and intelligence. For individuals with a growth mind-set, who believe intelligence develops through effort, mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. For individuals with a fixed mind-set, who believe intelligence is a stable characteristic, mistakes indicate lack of ability. We examined performance-monitoring event-related potentials (ERPs) to probe the neural mechanisms underlying these different reactions to mistakes. Findings revealed that a growth mind-set was associated with enhancement of the error positivity component (Pe), which reflects awareness of and allocation of attention to mistakes. More growth-minded individuals also showed superior accuracy after mistakes compared with individuals endorsing a more fixed mind-set. It is critical to note that Pe amplitude mediated the relationship between mind-set and posterror accuracy. These results suggest that neural mechanisms indexing on-line awareness of and attention to mistakes are intimately involved in growth-minded individuals' ability to rebound from mistakes.
Mass media plays a substantial role in the way social groups understand themselves and are understood by others. Some social groups, like Native Americans, are rarely portrayed in mass media and, in the rare cases they appear, they are typically depicted in a stereotypical and historical fashion. The lack of contemporary representation of Native Americans in the media limits the ways in which Native Americans understand what is possible for themselves and how they see themselves fitting in to contemporary domains (e.g., education and employment) of social life. In this article, we contend that the invisibility of Native Americans in the media undermines self-understanding by homogenizing Native American identity, creating narrow and limiting identity prototypes for Native Americans, and evoking deindividuation and self-stereotyping among contemporary Native Americans.
Adolescents’ perceptions of the prejudice in their social environments can factor into their developmental outcomes. The degree to which others in the environment perceive such prejudice—regardless of adolescents’ own perceptions— also matters by shedding light on the contextual climate in which adolescents spend their daily lives. Drawing on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study revealed that school-wide perceptions of peer prejudice, which tap into the interpersonal climate of schools, appeared to be particularly risky for adolescents’ academic achievement. In contrast, adolescents’ own perceptions of peer prejudice at schools were associated with their feelings of alienation in school. Importantly, these patterns did not vary substantially by several markers of vulnerability to social stigmatization.
In this commentary, we draw on two articles featured in this special volume to highlight the psychological and behavioral implications of the study of norms for underrepresented groups’ experience of fit and belonging in organizations. In particular, we discuss these implications with respect to our cultural mismatch theory of inequality. In the sections below, we first outline key tenets of cultural mismatch theory. Second, drawing on Gelfand & Harrington’s (this volume) discussion of the factors that increase the motivational force of norms, we argue that these same factors characterize underrepresented groups’ experiences of cultural mismatches, which should increase their reliance on norms. Third, drawing on Morris and Liu’s (this volume) distinction between peer and aspirational norms, we argue that consequences of the increased reliance on norms for experiences of cultural mismatch depend on whether underrepresented groups rely on peer versus aspirational norms.
Imagining one's possible future self can motivate action but whether motivational power resides more in positive or more in negative future identities is not clear. We predicted that motivational power resides not in these positive or negative future identities but in the fit between context and future self. We varied fit in four experiments by having students read about college as a success-likely or failure-likely context and then write about their desired or undesired possible future identities. Which aspect of the future self was motivating depended on context. Motivation was higher in success-likely contexts if desired rather than undesired possible futures came to mind and was higher in failure-likely contexts if undesired rather than desired possible futures come to mind.
Three studies explore how feelings of belonging among White students and stigmatized students of color influence their academic choices, goals, and performance. Drawing from an identity threat and stigma framework, we suggest that anticipated belonging influences all students when considering future-oriented decisions (e.g., choosing a college major; Study 1). However, because students of color are targeted by negative stereotypes that create uncertainty about their belonging in academic settings, actual feelings of belonging in school may be stronger predictors of these students’ academic outcomes. Consistent with this hypothesis, belonging in school predicted educational efficacy and ambitions of African American middle school students, but not of White students (Study 2). Further, feelings of belonging in the first weeks of college predicted second semester grades among stigmatized students of color, but not White students (Study 3). We suggest a more nuanced understanding of belonging is essential to creating supportive schools for everyone.
Gender stereotypes in science impede supportive environments for women. Research suggests that women’s perceptions of these environments are influenced by stereotype threat (ST): anxiety faced in situations where one may be evaluated using negative stereotypes. This study developed and tested ST metrics for first time use with junior faculty in academic medicine.
We argue that social psychology has unique potential for advancing understanding of resilience. An exciting development that illustrates this is the emergence of social-psychological interventions – brief, stealthy, and psychologically precise interventions – that can yield broad and lasting benefits by targeting key resilience mechanisms. Such interventions provide a causal test of resilience mechanisms and bring about positive change in people's lives.
Medicine has historically been a male-dominated field, and there remains a stereotype that men are better physicians than women. For female residents, and in particular female surgical residents, chronically contending with this stereotype can exact a toll on their psychological health. The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between women surgeons' psychological health and their perception of other people's endorsement of the stereotype (stereotype perception).
Although numerous theories of motivation have been proposed over the past few decades, Expectancy-Value models of motivation stand out for their ability to synthesize multiple theoretical perspectives, capture the key components of what motivates an individual, and explain a wide range of achievement-related behaviors. In the current chapter, we review the contemporary perspective of Expectancy-Value models used in education.
This meta-analysis provides an extensive and organized summary of intervention studies in education that are grounded in motivation theory. We identified 74 published and unpublished papers that experimentally manipulated an independent variable and measured an authentic educational outcome within an ecologically valid educational context. Our analyses included 92 independent effect sizes with 38,377 participants. Our results indicated that interventions were generally effective, with an average mean effect size of d = 0.49 (95% confidence interval = [0.43, 0.56]). Although there were descriptive differences in the effect sizes across several moderator variables considered in our analyses, the only significant difference found was for the type of experimental design, with randomized designs having smaller effect sizes than quasi-experimental designs. This work illustrates the extent to which interventions and accompanying theories have been tested via experimental methods and provides information about appropriate next steps in developing and testing effective motivation interventions in education.
Knowing what we don't yet know is critical for learning. Nonetheless, people typically overestimate their prowess—but is this true of everyone? Three studies examined who shows overconfidence and why. Study 1 demonstrated that participants with an entity (fixed) theory of intelligence, those known to avoid negative information, showed significantly more overconfidence than those with more incremental (malleable) theories. In Study 2, participants who were taught an entity theory of intelligence allocated less attention to difficult problems than those taught an incremental theory. Participants in this entity condition also displayed more overconfidence than those in the incremental condition, and this difference in overconfidence was mediated by the observed bias in attention to difficult problems. Finally, in Study 3, directing participants' attention to difficult aspects of the task reduced the overconfidence of those with more entity views of intelligence. Implications for reducing biased self-assessments that can interfere with learning were discussed.
The summer melt and academic mismatch literatures have focused largely on college-ready, low-income students. Yet, a broader population of students may also benefit from additional support in formulating and realizing their college plans. We investigate the impact of a unique high school-university partnership to support college-intending students to follow through on their college plans. Specifically, we facilitated a collaborative effort between the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and the University of New Mexico (UNM), and randomly assigned 1602 APS graduates admitted to UNM across three experimental conditions: (1) outreach from an APS-based counselor; (2) outreach from a UNM-based counselor; or (3) the control group. Among Hispanic males, who are underrepresented at UNM compared to their APS graduating class, summer outreach improved timely postsecondary matriculation, with suggestive evidence that college-based outreach may be particularly effective. This finding is consistent with the social-psychological literature showing that increasing students’ sense of belonging at college can improve enrollment outcomes.
tags: college students
Countless studies have addressed why some individuals achieve more than others. Nevertheless, the psychology of achievement lacks a unifying conceptual framework for synthesizing these empirical insights.We propose organizing achievement-related traits by two possible mechanisms of action: Traits that determine the rate at which an individual learns a skill are talent variables and can be distinguished conceptually from traits that determine the effort an individual puts forth. This approach takes inspiration from Newtonian mechanics: achievement is akin to distance traveled, effort to time, skill to speed, and talent to acceleration. A novel prediction from this model is that individual differences in effort (but not talent) influence achievement (but not skill) more substantially over longer (rather than shorter) time intervals. Conceptualizing skill as the multiplicative product of talent and effort, and achievement as the multiplicative product of skill and effort, advances similar, but less formal, propositions by several important earlier thinkers.
The ability to take information learned about one object (e.g., a cat) and extend it to other objects (e.g., a tiger, a lion) makes human learning efficient and powerful. How are these inductive generalizations performed? Fisher, Godwin, and Matlen (2015) propose a developmental mechanism that operates exclusively over the perceptual and semantic features of the objects involved (e.g., furry, carnivorous); this proposed mechanism does not use information concerning these objects’ category membership. In the present commentary, we argue that Fisher and colleagues’ experiments cannot differentiate between their feature-based mechanism and its category-based competitors. More broadly, we suggest that any proposal that doesn’t take into account the central role of category representations in children’s mental lives is likely to mischaracterize the development of inductive generalization. The key question is not whether, but how, categories are involved in children’s generalizations.
Over the past 20 years, a large body of laboratory and field research has shown that, when people perform in settings in which their group is negatively stereotyped, they may experience a phenomenon called stereotype threat that can undermine motivation and trust and cause underperformance. This review describes that research and places it into an organizational context. First, we describe the processes by which stereotype threat can impair outcomes among people in the workplace. Next, we delineate the situational cues in organizational settings that can exacerbate stereotype threat, and explain how and why these cues affect stereotyped individuals. Finally, we discuss relatively simple empirically based strategies that organizations can implement to reduce stereotype threat and create conditions in which employees and applicants from all groups can succeed.
Citizens complete a survey the day before a major election; a change in the survey items’ grammatical structure increases turnout by 11 percentage points. People answer a single question; their romantic relationships improve over several weeks. At-risk students complete a 1-hour reading-and-writing exercise; their grades rise and their health improves for the next 3 years. Each statement may sound outlandish—more science fiction than science. Yet each represents the results of a recent study in psychological science (respectively, Bryan, Walton, Rogers, & Dweck, 2011; Marigold, Holmes, & Ross, 2007, 2010; Walton & Cohen, 2011). These studies have shown, more than one might have thought, that specific psychological processes contribute to major social problems. These processes act as levers in complex systems that give rise to social problems. Precise interventions that alter them—what I call “wise interventions”—can produce significant benefits and do so over time. What are wise interventions? How do they work? And how can they help solve social problems?
Native American students encounter limited exposure to positive representations (i.e., role models) in the academic domain. This underrepresentation threatens students’ identities in the classroom, subsequently decreasing feelings of school belonging and negatively impacting academic performance (Walton & Cohen, 2007). Two studies examined how different methods for providing self-relevant representations affect belonging for underrepresented Native American middle school students. These findings suggest that positive, self-relevant representations can alleviate the effects of underrepresentation for Native American students.
We used self-report surveys to gather information on a broad set of non-cognitive skills from 1,368 8th-grade students attending Boston public schools and linked this information to administrative data on their demographics and test scores. At the student level, scales measuring conscientiousness, self-control, grit, and growth mindset are positively correlated with attendance, behavior, and test-score gains between 4th- and 8th-grade. Our results therefore highlight the importance of improved measurement of non-cognitive skills in order to capitalize on their promise as a tool to inform education practice and policy.
Women’s underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a prominent concern in our society and many others. Closer inspection of this phenomenon reveals a more nuanced picture, however, with women achieving parity with men at the Ph.D. level in certain STEM fields, while also being underrepresented in some non-STEM fields. In two studies, we demonstrate that the academic fields believed by laypeople to require brilliance are also the fields with lower female representation.
Nicole Stephens, MarYam Hamedani, and Mesmin Destin examined the effectiveness of a program that helped students understand how differences in social background contribute to their experiences in college.
There is growing agreement that scores on standardized tests of academic skills are incomplete measures of the important things that students learn from their teachers. This report relies upon data from over 300,000 Tripod student surveys administered in more than 16,000 sixth to ninth grade classrooms, 490 schools, 26 districts, 14 states, and in all major regions of the nation during the 2013-14 school year. The report concerns the influence of teaching on agency-related factors, defined as emotions, motivations, mindsets, and behaviors associated with personal agency.
The report uses classroom-specific student responses concerning the Tripod 7Cs™ of effective teaching—care, confer, captivate, clarify, consolidate, challenge, and classroom management. The central finding is that the 7Cs predict untested agency-related factors in nuanced and interesting ways. For example, while previous research found that challenge and classroom management are the strongest predictors of reading and math test score gains, the new study finds that care and captivate are the strongest predictors of whether a teacher inspires college aspirations. Based upon an extensive statistical analysis, the report identifies some teaching practices that are agency boosters, and others that are agency dampers. It distills ten implications for teaching to cultivate agency.
The authors propose a cultural mismatch theory that identifies one source of the social class achievement gap between first-generation and continuing-generation college students. Four studies test the hypothesis that first-generation students underperform because interdependent norms from their mostly working-class backgrounds constitute a mismatch with middle-class independent norms prevalent in universities. First, surveys of university administrators revealed that American universities focus primarily on norms of independence. Second, a longitudinal survey revealed that universities' focus on independence does not match first-generation students' relatively interdependent motives for attending college and that this cultural mismatch is associated with lower grades. Finally, 2 experiments revealed that representing the university culture in terms of independence (i.e., paving one's own paths) rendered academic tasks difficult and, thereby, undermined first-generation students' performance. Conversely, representing the university culture in terms of interdependence (i.e., being part of a community) reduced this sense of difficulty and eliminated the performance gap without adverse consequences for continuing-generation students.
The authors review the theoretical basis of several prominent social-psychological interventions and emphasizes that they have lasting effects because they target students' subjective experiences in school, because they use persuasive yet stealthy methods for conveying psychological ideas, and because they tap into recursive processes present in educational environments. Understanding these interventions as powerful but context-dependent tools is essential when taking them to scale.
Preschoolers watched a puppet show in which the protagonist drew a picture and was praised by a teacher. Children who saw the protagonist receive generic praise about his ability (“You are a good drawer”) were more upset when the protagonist subsequently made a mistake, and less likely to want to draw themselves compared to children who saw the protagonist praised only for that specific drawing (“You did a good job drawing”).
Both male and female children who were told that boys or girls in general are good at an activity (generic language) displayed lower motivation when performing a novel activity, as compared to children who were told that a particular boy or girl is good at it (non-generic language). Generic statements may be detrimental because they express normative societal expectations for performance and because they imply that performance is the result of stable traits rather than effort and process.
People have a basic need to maintain the integrity of the self, a global sense of personal adequacy. Events that threaten self-integrity arouse stress and self-protective defenses that can hamper performance and growth. However, an intervention known as self-affirmation can curb these negative outcomes. The interventions bring about a more expansive view of the self and its resources, weakening the implications of a threat for personal integrity. Timely affirmations have been shown to improve education, health, and relationship outcomes, with benefits that sometimes persist for months and years by touching off a positive feedback loop.
This research examined the benefits of interpreting physiological arousal as a challenge response on practice and actual GRE scores. Participants participating in a GRE practice session who were assigned to a reappraisal condition were told physiological arousal improves performance, whereas control participants were not given this information. Reappraisal participants exhibited a significant increase in sympathetic nervous system activation and outperformed controls on the GRE math section. Participants later returned to the lab and were provided their score reports from their actual GRE. Again, reappraisal participants scored higher than controls on the GRE-math section.
Belonging and self-affirmation interventions mitigated the effects of a "chilly climate" women may experience in engineering, especially in male dominated fields. The belonging intervention helped women better integrate into the department and build more relationships with male peers, while the affirmation training intervention led them to develop external resources that helped them manage the stress that can arise from social marginalization. Both interventions raised women's GPA, eliminating gender differences.
The performance of children on an unfamiliar, challenging activity was impaired when they were exposed to information that associated success in the task at hand with membership in a certain social group (e.g., "boys are good at this game"), regardless of their own membership in that group.
This chapter presents evidence of social identity threat in the underrepresentation of women in STEM. When an identity is perceived to be devalued because of negative stereotypes or a history of bias or exclusion, people can experience social identity threat, the worry and uncertainty that they will be viewed in terms of their social group—and not as an individual. This threat can lead to deleterious consequences for how individuals view themselves, the situation, and their place within it. The authors highlight the environmental cues that trigger or diffuse social identity threat—knowledge that can be used to create more welcoming academic settings for all social groups.
A growing social psychological literature reveals that brief interventions can benefit disadvantaged students. We tested a key component of the theoretical assumption that interventions exert long-term effects because they initiate recursive processes. Focusing on how interventions alter students’ responses to specific situations over time, we conducted a follow-up lab study with students who participated in a difference-education intervention two years earlier. In the intervention, students learned how their social-class backgrounds matter in college (Stephens, Hamedani, & Destin, 2014). The follow-up study assessed participants’ behavioral and hormonal responses to stressful college situations. We found that all difference-education versus control participants more frequently discussed their backgrounds in a speech, indicating they retained the understanding of how their backgrounds matter. Moreover, first-generation participants (i.e., whose parents do not have four-year degrees) in the difference-education versus control condition showed greater physiological thriving (i.e., anabolic balance), suggesting they experienced their working-class backgrounds as a strength.
The perception of certain academic disciplines requiring a special type of brilliance (vs. motivation and sustained effort) may help explain the underrepresentation of women in those fields. The authors suggest that faculty and graduate students convey their own attitudes to undergraduate students, who internalize these beliefs before making career decisions. Given the stereotype that fewer women than men possess this type of "brilliance", female undergraduates may feel discouraged from pursuing advanced degrees in fields perceived to be particularly dependent on this type of brilliance. Since they are not subject to the same stereotype, male students may not experience this same concern.
This Research Brief by the Mindset Scholars Network summarizes the article by Angela Duckworth and David Yeager in Educational Researcher, Measurement Matters: Assessing Personal Qualities Other Than Cognitive Ability for Educational Purposes. Based on the authors’ analysis of the field, this brief offers recommendations for how multiple stakeholders can advance the state of non-cognitive measurement for practical purposes in education.
tags: measurement & assessment
This Issue Brief by the Mindset Scholars Network summarizes what we know from nearly two decades of research about how to use praise and feedback by teachers and parents to encourage students to adopt growth mindsets and become more resilient learners.
This Issue Brief by the Mindset Scholars Network shares what researchers have learned about how belonging concerns affect gender representation in the physical sciences and engineering (pSTEM) and how we can use this understanding to increase women’s participation in these fields.
This Research Summary by the Mindset Scholars Network presents the findings of a study that explored how teachers can foster greater trust and improved academic outcomes, particularly among students of color, in the process of providing critical feedback to students on their schoolwork.
This Research Summary by the Mindset Scholars Network presents the findings of a study that explored whether a “self-transcendent” purpose for learning could help students persist with tedious tasks.
This Research Summary by the Mindset Scholars Network reveals what happens when you help high school students make connections between science and their own lives through a series of brief writing exercises.
This Research Summary by the Mindset Scholars Network offers a brief summary of what we know about learning mindsets from years of scientific research.
This Research Summary by the Mindset Scholars Network offers a brief summary of what we know about Growth Mindset from years of scientific research.
This Research Summary by the Mindset Scholars Network offers a brief summary of what we know about Belonging from years of scientific research.
This Research Summary by the Mindset Scholars Network offers a brief summary of what we know about Purpose & Relevance from years of scientific research.
This paper was prepared for a White House meeting on academic mindsets in May 2013. The authors review recent research findings and put forth an R&D agenda focused on principles (understanding how to maximize the effects of mindset interventions); practices (expanding the toolkit of day-to-day practices that instill adaptive mindsets; and assessments (developing measures that allow for more rapid learning from practice).
Students in the treatment group were taught about the malleability of intelligence, while students in the control group received a lesson on memory. Treated students were subsequently rated by teachers as being more motivated to do schoolwork than those in the control group. They also avoided the typical drop observed in motivation between 6th and 7th grades.
To reduce the anxiety-inducing effects of stereotype threat, 7th grade students were divided into four groups to be mentored by college students. Three groups heard different messages about the malleability of intelligence, how difficulties in 7th grade were normal, or both. A control group was given a message about the harm of drug use. Girls in both experimental conditions did better on standardized math tests.
Students in the treatment condition who were told that on average, college students improve their grades over time were significantly less likely to leave college by the end of their sophomore year, had a higher GPA 1 year after the study, and performed better on the GRE.
Studies featured in this article show that interventions that change students' attributions of difficulty can improve their performance on both short- and long-term measures.
The authors assessed the relationship between adolescents' achievement-related beliefs and their subjective valuing of achievement. Analyses suggest that achievement-related beliefs can be classified into 3 different task value factors (interest, perceived importance, and perceived utility), 1 expectancy / ability factor (comprising beliefs about one's competence, expectancies for success, and performance perceptions), and 2 task difficulty factors (perceptions of difficulty and perceptions of effort to do well). Task values and ability perception factors were positively related to each other and negatively correlated to adolescents' perceptions of task difficulty.
This article reviews recent field experiments showing that intrinsic goal framing (relative to extrinsic goal framing and no-goal framing) produces deeper engagement in learning activities, better conceptual learning, and higher persistence at learning activities. These effects occur for both intrinsically and extrinsically oriented individuals. Results are discussed in terms of self-determination theory’s concept of basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
tags: review article
The authors suggest that standard measures of academic performance are biased against non-Asian ethnic minorities and women in quantitative fields. This bias results from the context in which they are assessed—from psychological threats in common academic environments, which depress the performances of people targeted by negative intellectual stereotypes. Two meta-analyses, combining data from 18,976 students, tested this latent-ability hypothesis. Both meta-analyses found that, under conditions that reduce psychological threat, stereotyped students performed better than nonstereotyped students at the same level of past performance. The authors discuss implications for the interpretation of and remedies for achievement gaps.
Attempts to measure so-called "non-cognitive" factors for the purposes of educational policy and practice are relatively recent. The authors identify serious challenges to doing so. They discuss advantages and limitations of different measures, in particular: self-report questionnaires, teacher-report questionnaires, and performance tasks. The authors discuss how each measure’s imperfections can affect its suitability for program evaluation, accountability, individual diagnosis, and practice improvement. In addition to urging caution among policymakers and practitioners, they highlight medium-term innovations that may make these measures more suitable for educational purposes.
This article reviews research demonstrating that when adolescents believe that intellectual abilities and social attributes can be developed, they tend to show higher achievement across challenging school transitions, and reduced stress and aggression in response to bullying and exclusion. The authors suggest ideas for how educators can foster these mindsets that promote resilience in educational settings.
This chapter reviews research on motivation, beliefs, values, and goals. The chapter covers four main topics: theories focused on expectancies for success (self-efficacy theory and control theory), theories focused on task value (theories focused on intrinsic motivation, self-determination, flow, interest, and goals), theories that integrate expectancies and values (attribution theory, expectancy-value models, and self-worth theory), and theories integrating motivation and cognition (social cognitive theories of self-regulation and motivation, and theories of motivation and volition).
Toddlers whose parents praised their efforts more than they praised them as individuals exhibited a more positive approach to challenges five years later, and were more likely to hold an incremental framework about intelligence (i.e., a growth mindset).
Children displayed more "helpless" responses (including self blame) after receiving person criticism or praise than when they received process criticism or praise. Person feedback, even when positive, can create vulnerability and a sense of contingent self-worth.
Praise for intelligence had more negative consequences for students' motivation than praise for effort. After failure, children praised for intelligence also displayed less task persistence, less task enjoyment, more low-ability attributions, and worse task performance than children praised for effort.
The authors tested whether classroom activities that encourage students to connect course materials to their lives increases student motivation and learning. In a randomized field experiment with high school students, the authors found that a relevance intervention, which encouraged students to make connections between their lives and what they were learning in their science courses, increased interest in science and course grades for students with low expectations for success.
More than half of black college students fail to complete their degree work—for reasons that have little to do with innate ability or environmental conditioning. In this classic, timeless article from 1992, esteemed social psychologist Claude Steele argues that the problem is these students are undervalued, in ways that are sometimes subtle and sometimes not.
A follow up to an affirmation intervention study with middle schoolers revealed long term benefits of an exercise in which students wrote about a self-affirming value. Over 2 years, black students' GPA s was raised by 0.24 grade points. Low-achieving black students' GPA increased by 0.41 and their rate of remediation or grade repetition was dramatically reduced. The authors describe the importance of setting in motion a recursive process early on.
College students who wrote motivational letters to middle schoolers after learning about the malleability of intelligence later earned higher grades than those in a control group. The effect was most pronounced for African American students, who also reported enjoying school more.
Affirming students' sense of "self-integrity" lessened the psychological threat experienced by certain groups who worried about confirming negative stereotypes aimed at their group. The intervention reduced the racial achievement gap in grades by 40% among middle schoolers.
This study examined the cues hypothesis, which holds that situational cues, such as a setting’s features and organization, can make individuals vulnerable to social identity threat. Measures of identity threat were collected from male and female math, science, and engineering (MSE) majors who watched an MSE conference video depicting either an unbalanced ratio of men to women or a balanced ratio. Women who viewed the unbalanced video exhibited more cognitive and physiological vigilance, and reported a lower sense of belonging and less desire to participate in the conference, than did women who viewed the gender-balanced video. Men were unaffected by this situational cue.
Instructors holding more of an entity theory (fixed mindset) of math intelligence were quicker to judge students as having low ability and more likely to comfort students for low math ability and use "kind" strategies unlikely to promote engagement with the field (e.g., assigning less homework). Students receiving comfort-oriented feedback perceived the instructor's entity theory and low expectations, and reported lowered motivation and performance expectations.
The authors make 3 claims: (1) Stigmatization impedes the establishment of trust, (2) Mistrust elicited by stigmatization can cause motivation and performance to suffer, and (3) Allaying the threat of stigmatization will help to create trust and improve motivation. They describe the application of this theory to the issue of providing critical but constructive feedback across lines of difference. This same framework is used to understand how a "stigma of racism" may hamper the performance of teachers who work in demographically diverse classrooms. Intervention strategies are reviewed that may boost the achievement of minority students by allaying the threat of stigmatization and thus creating a basis of trust.
An intervention that framed social adversity as common and transient and used subtle attitude-change strategies raised black students' GPA and halved the achievement gap between black and white students. The increase in their performance was the result of the intervention preventing students from seeing adversity on campus as an indictment of their belonging. It also improved self-reported health and well-being.
In this study, men and women viewed corporate mission statements and websites conveying that the organization espoused an entity (fixed) or incremental (malleable) theory. Results revealed that women—more so than men—trusted the entity company less than the incremental company. Furthermore, only women’s mistrust of the entity company was driven by their expectations about being stereotyped by its management. Notably, when combined with high or low representations of female employees, only these organizational lay theories predicted trust. People’s—particularly women’s—mistrust of the entity company led them to disengage more before interacting with a representative.
The authors examine how an organization’s fixed (entity) or malleable (incremental) theory of intelligence affects people’s inferences about what is valued, their self- and social judgments, and their behavioral decisions. The authors find that people systematically shift their self-presentations when motivated to join an entity or incremental organization. People present their “smarts” to the entity environment and their “motivation” to the incremental environment. They also show downstream consequences of these inferences for participants’ self-concepts and their hiring decisions.
Worry over one’s social belonging can contribute to racial disparities in college achievement. Historically excluded groups may feel alienated and stigmatized on college campuses, contributing to the belief that they don’t belong. Subtle events that confirm a lack of social connectedness can have large impacts on belonging. On days of high stress, black students’ (but not white students’) sense of fit in college declined. However, after an exercise that relayed the message that normalized their feelings and suggested they would dissipate with time, black students were more engaged in school, and their sense of belonging hinged less on the quality of their day. Their GPAs also improved.
The authors describe a research-based model that accounts for major patterns of adaptive and maladaptive behavior (mastery-oriented and helpless patterns) in terms of psychological processes. Individuals who hold certain beliefs lead them to pursue certain goals, which set up the different cognitive, affective, and behavioral patterns we observe.
This chapter discusses the ways in which seemingly subtle interventions that affect student psychology can have disproportionately large and lasting positive effects. They do so, in large part, through recursive feedback loops and dynamic interactions with other factors in the school environment. A well-placed and well-timed intervention can have large and lasting effects. The conditions under which such effects occur and do not are also suggested by the presented framework.
The author argues that sustained school success requires identification with school; that societal pressures on blacks and women can frustrate this identification; and that in school domains where these groups are negatively stereotyped, those who have become domain identified face the further barrier of stereotype threat, the threat that others' judgments or their own actions will negatively stereotype them in the domain. This threat depresses the standardized test performance of high-achieving women and African Americans and causes disidentification with school, but practices that reduce this threat can reduce these negative effects.
The authors describe several social psychological factors that affect student motivation and learning. They describe the properties of instructional practices and schools that appear to foster student mindsets, tenacity, and performance.
The authors review achievement goal theory--one of the most prominent theories of motivation in educational research. They review criticisms of a multiple goal perspective (the positive effect of holding both performance-approach and master goals) in light of the relevant research and spotlight future areas of research.
tags: review article
The first study revealed that students with more of a pro-social, self-transcendent purpose for learning persisted longer on a boring task and were less likely to drop out of college. A second study showed that a brief intervention promoting a self-transcendent purpose for learning improved high school GPA. Two other studies showed that promoting a self-transcendent purpose increased deeper learning behavior on tedious test review materials and sustained self-regulation over the course of an increasingly boring task. More self-oriented motives for learning—such as the desire to have an interesting or enjoyable career—did not, on their own, consistently produce these benefits.
By emphasizing their high standards and belief that a student is capable of meeting those standards alongside critical feedback on schoolwork, teachers convey to students that they will be neither treated nor judged in light of a negative stereotype. 71% of black students who received this type of "wise feedback" on an essay chose to revise their essays, compared with 17% in the control group. Among black students with low trust of their teachers, 82% revised their essay while none in the control group did. Another intervention that taught students to attribute critical feedback to their teachers' high standards and belief in their potential raised black students' grades and reduced the achievement gap.
The authors delivered brief growth mindset and sense of purpose interventions through online modules to 1,594 high school students. Among students at risk of dropping out of high school, both of the interventions raised students' semester GPAs in core academic courses and increased the rate at which students passed their courses.
Two longitudinal field experiments in a middle school examined how a brief “values affirmation” affects students' psychological experience and the relationship between psychological experience and environmental threat over 2 years. Together these studies suggest that values affirmations insulate individuals' sense of belonging from environmental threat during a key developmental transition, and that the intervention is most effective if delivered before a drop in performance.
An intervention designed to reduce the gap between first- and continuing-generation college students used senior students' real-life stories to illustrate how students' diverse backgrounds can shape what they experience in college. The intervention eliminated the social-class achievement gap by increasing first generation students' tendency to seek out college resources, improving their GPAs.
This article explores whether there is something unique about the adolescent developmental period that puts them at particular risk for difficulty. The authors hypothesize that some of the negative psychological changes associated with adolescent development result from a mismatch between the needs of developing adolescents and the opportunities afforded them by their social environments. It provides examples of how this mismatch develops in the school and in the home and how it is linked to negative age-related changes in early adolescents' motivation and self-perceptions. Ways in which more developmentally appropriate social environments can be created are discussed.
An important consequence of negative stereotypes about certain groups' intellectual ability is to convey to members of these groups that they are not seen as individuals, that they may not be fully valued or respected—that they may not belong—in academic settings. In this chapter, the authors review research demonstrating that people who contend with numeric underrepresentation and with negative stereotypes in mainstream academic and professional arenas are vigilant for cues that could communicate they do not belong or are not fully included in these settings. When encountered, such cues can undermine people’s sense of belonging, motivation, and achievement. The authors review effective remedies.
Children from families with fewer assets may lower their expectations for school success and plan to engage in less effort in school because the path to achieving their desired possible selves appears closed. To test this hypothesis, the authors examined the impact of experimentally manipulating beliefs about college as either ‘‘closed’’ (expensive) or ‘‘open’’ (can be paid for with need based financial aid) among low-income early adolescents. Adolescents assigned to an open-path condition expected higher grades than those assigned to a closed-path condition and planned to spend more time on homework than those assigned to a no-prime control condition.
The authors argue for a conceptualization of prejudice as something that people and contexts do, not just the type of person someone is. This interpretation shifts our view of prejudice from a static and fixed property of individuals to one that is active, dynamic and sourced from both people (e.g., their attitudes and beliefs) and the contexts that they inhabit. To fully understand the effect that people’s attitudes have on others, one must consider the contexts within which the actor and the target are embedded.