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Growth and fixed mindsets

Implicit theories are the beliefs that individuals possess about the malleability of human attributes, such as academic ability and personal interests/passions. In a series of correlational and observational studies, our lab is examining the nature and development of growth and fixed mindsets of ability, interest, and health in children, adolescents, college students, academic advisors, and career professionals. We hope to translate our findings in actionable ways that can benefit individuals in different settings. 


Supporting STEM academic advising for undergraduate student achievement 

This project examines the motivational beliefs and practices among academic advisors that can enhance motivation and achievement in STEM at the undergraduate level. Although academic advisors play a key role in student success, the role of the academic advisor has been consistently overlooked in STEM education research. As advisors take on ever-increasing advising loads, it is imperative that we better understand the factors underlying successful advising in STEM for promoting better learning outcomes for students. With Co-PI Dr. Jennifer Osterhage (Biology), this Level 1 Engaged Student Learning IUSE: EDU project will advance understanding of how academic advising shapes motivation, learning behaviors, and achievement outcomes in undergraduate students pursuing STEM fields. In addition to generating new knowledge to advance our scientific understanding of these important learning processes, the project will identify levers for intervention to increase STEM retention and achievement, especially for students from groups that have been underrepresented in these fields. NSF Abstract


Inclusive, open, and reproducible developmental science 

Matt is co-leading a multi-site effort to design and disseminate approaches to improving teaching and mentoring in psychological science as it relates to open and replicable science. This work began as an "unconference" at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science. In 2021, we published a white paper containing tips and resources to support undergraduate and graduate teaching and mentoring in ways that are consistent with the values of open science. 

OSF Project Page | White Paper


Over the past decade, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of inclusive, open, and reproducible practices in psychological science. In addition to enhancing rigor and reproducibility through open and transparent research practices, greater inclusivity through diverse samples can enhance the relevance and applicability of our work for historically marginalized and understudied populations. This project is exploring the nature and prevalence of inclusive, open, and reproducible practices in child development research. 

OSF Project Page | Preprint


Experiences and beliefs of mathematics students

In this cross-disciplinary project led by Dr. Pooja Sidney (Psychology) and bringing together researchers and educators from mathematics, psychology, and STEM education, we aim to better understand students' mathematical beliefs, sense of belonging in math, and assessment structures in math, especially in groups historically underrepresented and marginalized in undergraduate math settings. OSF Project Page


My STEM Story.png

My STEM Story: Scaling STEM Motivation Through Digital Storytelling and Near Peer Relationships

My STEM Story represents a transformative effort to bridge theory and methods across psychology, journalism, and education to design, test, and disseminate an intervention intended to enhance science motivation and achievement among high school students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation. 

We have recently made our classroom and online intervention materials freely available to all educators and students! Check them out here: https://www.mystemstory.net/


NSF Abstract | Video Introduction | OSF Project Page


Developing and Researching Youth-Driven Media that Highlights Science as an Act of Service During a Public Health Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity to leverage the increased visibility of science and scientists in the public sphere to enhance interest and engagement in science among adolescents. This NSF Rapid Response project builds on the success of My STEM Story by exploring how images portraying youth scientists serving their communities through science can shape academic and career identities in science among high school students. 


NSF Abstract | How the Pandemic May Help More Students See Themselves as Scientists



Kindergarten schooling effects on behavioral and neural indicators of executive functions and motivation

The transition to elementary school is an important but challenging milestone for children! This project will examine the causal impacts of kindergarten schooling on two foundational cognitive skills—executive functions and motivation—that are important for school success. The project will use behavioral and electrophysiological methods in order to better understand whether and how early schooling experiences shape growth in these skills, with potential implications for early intervention and instructional design. 


We are grateful to our community partners who have contributed to the success of our research:


University of Kentucky Early Childhood Laboratory


The Living Arts and Science Center


Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

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