Student Experience Research Network Blog

Student Experience Research Network (SERN) has awarded small grants to five early career researchers whose faculty advisors are SERN scholars. Amanda Cook, Jillian Lauer, Melissa Lyon, Fortunato Medrano, and Claudia Sutter will analyze data held in SERN’s Data Archive for Interdisciplinary Research on Learning (DAIRL) to advance knowledge about how practices, policies, and norms shape students’ experience of feeling respected as valued people and thinkers in school.

DAIRL provides an infrastructure for accessing and sharing papers and quantitative and qualitative data related to student learning. Along with the Compendium of Studies that Measure Learning Mindsets, DAIRL serves as a resource for scholars conducting practically relevant, equity-centered research across disciplines.

At a time when the pandemic has made new data collection challenging, this grant program supports early career scholars to pursue novel research based on existing data. With projects running for six months, scholars will also gain experience conducting research that quickly turns out practically relevant insights. Four of the funded scholars will participate in methodological training to support their professional development.

The grantees and their project descriptions are listed below.

Institutional Characteristics as Potential Determinants of Marginalized Students’ Experiences of Identity Affirmation and Belonging

Amanda Cook (SERN scholar faculty advisor : Mesmin Destin)

Numerous studies have identified a positive relationship between college selectivity and students’ likelihood of degree completion and related labor market outcomes. However, both qualitative and quantitative research have found that many students from historically marginalized backgrounds experience feelings of exclusion and isolation at selective colleges. Expanding on this prior work, the proposed study will examine the association between college characteristics and students’ experiences of identity affirmation and belonging.

Exploring the Relationship between Gender Stereotypes and Students’ Experience in Mathematics

Jillian Lauer (SERN scholar faculty advisor : Andrei Cimpian)

Despite considerable progress in women’s academic and professional attainment, women remain vastly underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions, comprising less than 25% of the nation’s STEM workforce (NSF, 2017). Building on prior research examining the role of the male-oriented culture of STEM fields in shaping girls’ interests in computer science (e.g., Cheryan et al., 2015; Master et al., 2016), the proposed work will investigate various avenues via which gender stereotypes relate to students’ experiences (e.g., anxiety, interest) and achievement in mathematics during high school.

Fostering a Pipeline of Teachers: Do Cultural Beliefs about Prestige Shape Students’ Interest in Teaching?

Melissa Lyon (SERN scholar faculty advisor : Matthew Kraft)

Schools today face hiring and retention challenges that have the potential to exacerbate preexisting inequities in students’ schooling experiences and outcomes. This project examines the role of cultural beliefs about the prestige of the teaching profession as well as other factors (e.g., occupational trends, norms) in explaining students’ interest in pursuing a career in teaching.

The Role of Respectful Contexts in Shaping Beliefs about Ability

Fortunato Medrano (SERN scholar faculty advisor : David Yeager)

Students’ experience of respect in school is a critical developmental cue that helps guide and direct behavior. In a large, representative sample, this project examines the extent to which respectful classroom climates – those in which students feel competent, capable, and autonomous – bolster the positive effects of a growth mindset program on students’ experiences and outcomes.

Beliefs about Ability as a Filter of Environmental Cues

Claudia Sutter (SERN scholar faculty advisor : Christopher Hulleman)

Underrepresented, racially minoritized students are subjected to pervasive negative cultural stereotypes about their talent in STEM (e.g., Canning, 2019) that can shape their experiences in STEM classrooms in myriad ways. Building on prior research, this project explores the interplay of teachers’ beliefs about ability and racially minoritized students’ perceptions of their environment, beliefs about their own ability, and achievement in mathematics.

This grant program reflects SERN’s commitment to supporting scholars who want to have an impact in research, policy, and practice arenas in education, and who are positioned to deepen our collective understanding of how structures shape student experience. We look forward to learning from this portfolio of projects.


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