Last month, I finally gave up on a much loved, but completely worn-out pair of sneakers and started shopping online for a replacement. A week later, despite reading reviews for at least 15 different shoes and carefully studying a number of sizing charts, I was the proud owner of two poorly-fitting and incredibly uncomfortable pairs of shoes. I had done my research but, in the end, there simply wasn’t a substitute for getting to actually try on the shoes before buying them. But this is not a post about sneakers (obviously). This is a blog about social-psychological interventions.
When former campers look back on their camp experiences, they often reflect on a nostalgic feeling of youthful freedom and exploration. Camp is where many people learned to paddle a canoe, cook over a fire, or conquer their fear of heights. It’s where they got to explore the woods, learn about nature, and how awe inspiring it can be to camp out underneath the stars. But for children, camp has the potential to help children learn to view setbacks as opportunities for growth, and challenges as short-term issues that can be overcome with a little hard work and some ingenuity.
Jaime attended the same undergraduate institution as both of the authors. When Larry Happel wrote about Jaime's story for Central College, Chris Hulleman immediately recognized the psychological factors at play in Jaime's journey. In this article, Hulleman and Happel come together to share Jaime's story and explain what it can teach us about the psychology of navigating life's transitions and challenges.
As a doctoral student teaching statistics to undergraduates, Dr. Chris Hulleman ran into a challenge that all teachers encounter at some point: his students just didn’t seem interested in the topics of the class. Over fifteen years later, Chris and his wife, Teresa, in collaboration with Character Lab, launched a tool designed to help teachers and students overcome barriers to motivation that can be present in the classroom.
Last month, three of Motivate Lab’s research assistants were invited to New York City to present at the January session of the Advanced Academic and Personal Behaviors Institute (AAPBI). This monthly conference is sponsored by the New York City Department of Education and Eskolta, a nonprofit organization that focuses on school-improvement initiatives for urban public schools in the NYC area. Read on to learn about the Motivate Lab students leading the charge on social belonging interventions.
Mary Rose Phillipoom is a second-year University of Virginia student who has been working in the Motivate Lab since the beginning of her first-year. Through Motivate Lab, and her courses at UVA, she’s able to explore her interests in issues of ability, race, and social class in higher education. The Curry School of Education at UVA caught up with Mary Rose to learn a little more about her academic and volunteer interests.
Is it possible to increase student motivation by helping (not telling) students to see the importance of the content in their own lives (i.e., increasing utility value)? Motivate Lab Director, Chris Hulleman, and colleagues designed a series of studies based on expectancy-value theory to explore ways a teacher might influence students’ utility value without any time-consuming or expensive curriculum changes.
First-generation college students (students for whom neither parent has a 4-year college degree) earn lower grades and worry more about whether they belong in college, compared with continuing-generation students (who have at least 1 parent with a 4-year college degree). We conducted a longitudinal follow-up of participants from a study in which a values-affirmation intervention improved performance in a biology course for first-generation college students, and found that the treatment effect on grades persisted 3 years later.
We replicated and extended prior research investigating a theoretically-guided intervention based on expectancy-value theory designed to enhance student learning outcomes (e.g., Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009). First, we replicated prior work by demonstrating that the utility value intervention, which manipulated whether students made connections between the course material and their lives, increased both interest and performance of low-performing students in a college general education course. Second, we extended prior research by both measuring and manipulating one possible pathway of intervention effects: the frequency with which students make connections between the material and their lives.
There are many promising psychological interventions on the horizon, but there is no clear methodology for preparing them to be scaled up. Drawing on design thinking, the present research formalizes a methodology for redesigning and tailoring initial interventions. We test the methodology using the case of fixed versus growth mindsets during the transition to high school.
Recent research highlights the role of peer victimization in students’ adjustment across a variety of domains (e.g., academic, social), but less often identifies potential mediating variables. In the cur- rent study, we tested for direct effects from peer victimization to adolescents’ academic behavior and alcohol use, as well as indi- rect effects through school belonging.
The need for students trained in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs is growing rapidly in the United States, yet students do not enroll in the necessary courses to prepare for STEM careers. In a randomized controlled trial, parents in the utility–value intervention group received materials detailing the importance of STEM for their adolescents in high school. The intervention increased mathematics and science ACT scores and course-taking in high school. This greater high-school STEM preparation was associated, 5 y later, with increased STEM career pursuit.
Curry School of Education News
Can classroom activities that encourage students to connect course materials to their lives increase student motivation and learning? In a randomized field experiment with high school students, we found that a relevance intervention, which encouraged students to make connections between their lives and what they were learning in their science courses, increased interest in science and course grades for students with low success expectations. The results have implications for the development of science curricula and theories of motivation.