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TxMI - College Transition

A RESEARCH PRACTICE PARTNERSHIP TO PROMOTE EQUITY

A primary concern in higher-education today is the differences in graduation rates across different groups, even among students who have similar grades and test scores in high school. These inequities are also present in our University of Texas classrooms. Research has shown that learning environments that support learning mindsets or beliefs about belonging, growth, and purposecan predict student persistence and performance and address inequities within classrooms.

TxMI is an initiative established by the Texas Behavioral Science and Policy Institute (TxBSPI). The Institute, established under the aegis of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, seeks to build a robust action-oriented science and intervention infrastructure to make real-world progress in education and workforce development, health, and social justice.

Using a research-practice partnership model, the TxMI supports faculty as they develop and implement practices that transform learning and instruction, and rigorously studies the outcomes among their students. This initiative grows out of a recognition that colleges have perhaps done all they can to improve student outcomes outside of the classroom. However, there is still a need for innovation inside the classroom. It also grows out of psychologists' recognition that it is not enough to give a student a positive mindset; it is also critical to change instructors' practices in ways that support growth and belonging.

To support this work, TxMI has partnered with Office of Strategy and Policy and College of Natural Sciences (CNS) at the University of Texas at Austin. The TxMI partnership's goal is to discover, rigorously evaluate, and spread new ways to make the classroom experience more inclusive, engaging, and supportive of mental health. In Fall 2020, as part of the Fellowship Program at the College of Natural Sciences (CNS), TxMI collaborated with faculty with demonstrated excellence in undergraduate teaching in four disciplines Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics who were willing to innovate their teaching practices to create more inclusive and growth-oriented learning environments. The Fellowship culminated in a showcase event at which fellows shared their changed teaching practices.

FUTURE PLANS

The long-term goal of TxMI is to spread the teaching innovations across higher education in Texas, starting with other colleges within the University of Texas at Austin and other University of Texas System campuses. TxMI aims to create a state-wide shared research infrastructure in which social and behavioral scientists can evaluate novel faculty-targeted treatments to improve instruction (e.g., new ways of creating an inclusive climate) using rigorous, randomized trials. Data from these experiments will be stored on TxMI’s secure servers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and utilizedby a community of social science researchers and data scientists who can produce rapid insights for the practice partners. Thus, the research conducted in TxMI will directly impact faculty and yield generalizable knowledge and high-impact publications.

For more information, please contact txbspi@prc.utexas.edu.