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This research report summarizes results from interviews and focus groups conducted by the Student Experience Research 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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Social isolation, anxiety, and depression have significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic among college students. We examine a key protective factor—students’ sense of belonging with their college—to understand (1) how belongingness varies overall and for key sociodemographic groups (first-generation, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students, first-year students) amidst COVID-19 and (2) if feelings of belonging buffer students from adverse mental health in college.

Longitudinal models and regression analysis was assessed using data from a longitudinal study of college students (N = 1,004) spanning (T1; Fall 2019) and amidst COVID-19 (T2; Spring 2020).

Despite reporting high levels of belonging pre- and post-COVID, consistent with past research, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority/first-generation students reported relatively lower sense of belonging compared to peers. Feelings of belonging buffered depressive symptoms and to a lesser extent anxiety amidst COVID among all students.

College students’ sense of belonging continues to be an important predictor of mental health even amidst the pandemic, conveying the importance of an inclusive climate.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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”).

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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 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 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

This research snapshot provides an overview of a project led by Neil Lewis, Jr. and Rene Kizilcec, funded through the SERN K-12 Teachers and Classrooms Research Portfolio. The study investigates the psychological experience of more than 106,000 high school students from across the United States who were enrolled in's Advanced Placement Computer Science course during the 2017-2018 school year. The researchers examine relationships between student demographics, mindsets, and course outcomes.

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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 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.

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.

Young people are more likely to develop into effective learners, productive adults, and engaged citizens when their learning environments afford them certain kinds of experiences. For example, students are more likely to succeed when they experience a sense of belonging in school or experience schoolwork as personally relevant.

How can schools systematically ensure they provide every one of their students with the important developmental experiences they need to succeed and thrive? To answer this question, we offer a conceptual framework that integrates insights from empirical literatures in education, psychology, and developmental science; innovations from early warning indicator methods; and our own experiences as researchers working in partnership with practitioners to build more equitable and developmentally supportive learning environments.

We posit that schools currently pay a great deal of attention to the results of effective learning (e.g., high test scores), but not nearly enough attention to the causes of effective learning (e.g., assignments that are relevant enough to motivate students). We propose that schools could foster learning and development more systematically and more equitably if they started to measure, not just downstream learning outcomes, but also the upstream developmental experiences that make those outcomes more likely to unfold.

This research snapshot provides an overview of a project led by Sidney D'Mello, funded through the SERN K-12 Teachers and Classrooms Research Portfolio. Using video recordings of 6th to 8th grade mathematics classes from the Measures of Effective Teaching project, the researchers identify a set of prevalent teacher discourse practices likely to affect students’ psychological and academic outcomes, using methods that have the potential to inform fine-grained and lesson-specific feedback to teachers on their instruction.

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 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.


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 one-pager draws on research from the Inclusive Mathematics Environments Early Career Fellowship to illustrate how the learning environment can shape student experience in the context of mathematics. It is designed to serve as a starting point for learning about the research that was completed through the fellowship.


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.

This research snapshot provides an overview of a project led by Eric Grodsky and Patti Schaefer, funded through the SERN K-12 Teachers and Classrooms Research Portfolio. Drawing on a sample of 1,887 students and 60 teachers from five middle schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District, the study examines: (1) How is student sense of belonging distributed within and between middle school mathematics classes? (2) How is teacher mindset related to student sense of belonging, academic identity, and student success in middle school in general and mathematics classes in particular? and (3) How, if at all, does the relationship between belonging and achievement vary by student race and ethnicity?

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.

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.

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.

This Research Summary by the Student Experience Research 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 brief summarizes a study from Mindset Scholars on the effectiveness of short, computer-based learning mindset programs on academic achievement for high school students.

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.

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.

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.

This Research Summary by the Student Experience Research 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This Research Summary by the Student Experience Research Network presents the findings of a study that explored whether a “self-transcendent” purpose for learning could help students persist with tedious tasks.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

We study the long-term effects of a psychological intervention on longitudinal academic outcomes and degree completion of college students. All freshmen at a large public university were randomized to an online growth mindset, belonging, or control group. We tracked students’ academic outcomes including GPA, number of credits attempted and earned, major choices, and degree completion. We found no evidence of longitudinal academic treatment effects in the full sample. However, the mindset treatment improved term GPAs for Latinx students and the probability for Pell-eligible and Latinx students to major in selective majors. We also found no evidence of increased rates of on-time graduation, however, the treatment raised the probability to graduate with selective majors in four years, especially for Latinx students.