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Removing Barriers to Motivation in Community College Math


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Removing Barriers to Motivation in Community College Math


 

 

Projects

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At a large community college system in central Florida, 40% of the more than 20,000 students who take developmental math each year don't pass. Similar patterns are found in community colleges across the U.S.

While teaching students about study skills and time management is important, it’s also important to foster students’ beliefs that they’re able and want to succeed. How can we help students believe they can bounce back from academic challenges and persevere through these critical math courses?

We are partnering with math faculty to test whether brief, in-class activities combining growth mindset and utility value interventions can boost students’ motivation and math performance. Over 12,000 students have been part of the study since 2015.

Currently, we are adapting and improving our interventions based on insights gained through initial mixed methods analyses from this study. We also plan to explore students' longitudinal outcomes, such as GPA, major path, and career trajectories.

Build Connections


Build Connections


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Students often struggle to understand the value of what they are learning. This is especially true for students who are at-risk for under-performance.

Prior field experiments show that utility value interventions can boost motivation and performance for students at risk of under-performance. Based on these findings, we have partnered with the Character Lab to develop a teacher-led activity aimed at helping them increase students’ perceptions of the value of their coursework.

Learn more about Build Connections in this short video, or view the full resource here.  

Tennessee Pathways With Purpose


Tennessee Pathways With Purpose


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Tennessee's goal is for 55% of adults to obtain a post-secondary degree, but less than half of students across the higher education system graduate within six years. The problem is especially severe at community colleges, where 40% of students drop out after only one semester.

The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) governs all thirteen community colleges and 27 technical colleges within the state of Tennessee, serving more than 100,000 students each year. Our partnership was established in 2016, with a focus on developing and implementing direct-to-student interventions and faculty/staff trainings targeting learning mindset development.

We've collected data from over 12,000 students across 45 higher-education institutions - including community colleges, technical schools, and four-year universities - to understand these contexts and create strategies aimed at improving student retention. Through statewide partnerships we are also laying the foundations to scale up efforts over the next several years. 

A principal goal of the project is to provide a more nuanced perspective on the link between mindsets and student success and how this link varies across institutions. Because initial findings suggest feelings of belonging predict student retention, we will explore how this varies among low-income students from different backgrounds and institutions. We will also examine additional outcomes such as GPA, degree attainment, employment status and income. 

Infusing Higher Education in Georgia With Learning Mindsets


Infusing Higher Education in Georgia With Learning Mindsets


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Georgia aims for 60% of adults to hold a post-secondary degree by 2025 (up from 38%) and is interested in harnessing research on learning mindsets to achieve this goal. 

The University System of Georgia (USG) governs all 26 four-year institutions within the state of Georgia, serving more than 318,000 students each year. Our partnership was established in 2017, and we are currently collecting data from students and faculty to understand the motivational culture in four-year institutions.

Through this partnership and based on insights from our data, we will co-create a plan to infuse mindset-supportive practices into Georgia's higher education system at the student, instructional, curricular, and policy levels. 

Learning Mindsets and Motivation to Diversify STEM Education


Learning Mindsets and Motivation to Diversify STEM Education


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White students and underrepresented minority (URM) students show an equal level of interest in STEM careers when they enter college, but URM students encounter poorly understood barriers to successfully completing STEM degrees.

At the University of Virginia (UVA), there is a 45-point differential in the percentage of white and African American students graduating with at least a 3.0 GPA in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (85% versus 40%, respectively). Similar outcome differentials nationwide severely threaten America's STEM workforce readiness and future economic security.

In order to increase the percentage of URMs graduating with a 3.0 GPA or above, Motivate Lab is working with teams across UVA to understand the achievement gap for URM undergraduate students, implement targeted interventions for a select group of students, and ultimately pilot the research project across multiple large universities to determine the efficacy of the interventions.

Social Belonging in the Transition to High School


Social Belonging in the Transition to High School


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The transition from middle school into high school is a critical period for future academic success for rising ninth grade students. During this time period, students - especially those from historically disadvantaged and underrepresented groups - may question whether or not they belong in their school environment.

We have partnered with a rural public high school in the state of Virginia to administer a novel video intervention targeting student perceptions of belonging. We are in the process of collecting data from our second cohort of participants to test if this brief intervention can improve students’ sense of belonging and academic performance, among other outcomes. Our analysis will be conducted in light of the violent, race-based rallies held by the alt-right in Charlottesville, VA just days after our intervention was implemented.

We will report our findings regarding the role perceived belonging plays in the context of secondary education, especially in response to race-based violence in the community. Initial results suggest the intervention increases perceptions of student belonging. If these results hold, we will focus on  collaborating with our high school partner to integrate our intervention more fully into school curricula.

Life Skills Transfer from Summer Camp to School


Life Skills Transfer from Summer Camp to School


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For the more than 10 million children who attend camp each summer, camp is an opportunity to develop critical skills and ways of seeing the world. But do campers make the connection between the skills and mindsets they develop at camp and their lives outside of camp?

The aim of our Mindset Transfer project is to (1) understand how campers and counselors talk about skill and mindset development and (2) help campers see the connection between the skills and mindsets they learn at camp and how to apply them in places like school, sports, and the arts. Partnering with a charter school system in the American southwest, Camp Champions, and the American Camp Association-New York/New Jersey, we're conducting a field study at four camps that includes focus groups, observations, parent/counselor surveys, and camper reflection activities.