Motivate Lab - Challenges


Motivate Lab - Challenges


We tackle real-world challenges

At Motivate Lab, we believe that research is just the beginning. Our ultimate goal is to use our insights to solve real problems and improve people's lives. We collaborate with teachers, school systems, and government agencies to address some of their biggest challenges. 

Tennessee’s goal is for 55% of adults to obtain a post-secondary degree, but students face challenges to graduation. Value for learning is an important predictor of student persistence and achievement, but based on responses from students enrolled in co-requisite courses in Tennessee, a lack of value is one obstacle preventing post-secondary students from persisting and being successful through their first year of college. 

Currently 1 in 4 students drop out of higher education across Georgia. Drop-out rates exceed 35% for state universities and 50% for two-year colleges. Furthermore, underrepresented and low-income students have disproportionally low graduation rates. Without driving enrollment and graduation rates higher, the workforce skills gap will continue to widen.


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 the school environment.


Motivate Lab Research Questions

Motivate Lab Research Questions

We ask tough questions

We don't shy away from asking the hard-hitting questions that help us to improve the world around us. From K-12 and higher education to summer camp and sports, we are studying the mindsets that lead to deep learning across a variety of settings.

These are just a few of the questions we are working to answer. 

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

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 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.  


For a 2-page printable summary of our largest projects click here | PDF

Learning Mindsets and Motivation

Learning Mindsets and Motivation

Learning mindsets matter

Mindsets are our beliefs and perceptions about learning. They shape how we interpret difficulty, and research shows they are critical predictors of academic performance, persistence, and motivation. We are primarily interested in three main learning mindsets. Read more about learning mindsets in the latest publications by Motivate Lab faculty. 

Watch Motivate Lab Director discuss “Mindset GPS”

Our research Process

Our research Process

Our research process

By combining psychological science with design thinking and researcher-practitioner partnerships, we instigate positive change in institutions, from the individual to the policy level. We utilize best practices in de.png

By combining psychological science with design thinking and leveraging strategic researcher-practitioner partnerships, we seek to instigate positive change in organizations, from the individual to the policy level. We utilize best practices in design-based research, randomized control trials, and mixed-methods research to find optimal solutions to meet our partners' needs. 

Customize interventions informed by data, feedback, and theory.png