Education, Work, and Inequality Projects

Phase 2: National Study of Learning Mindsets

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

This is a proposal to carry out a long-term follow-up to a cohort of students who participated in the National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM), which is a randomized trial evaluating a learning mindset intervention (growth mindset + purpose) conducted in a nationally-represenative sample of regular U.S. public high schools in the 2015-2016 school year. This will involve collecting and analyzing students’ end-of-high school (i.e. summer 2019) transcripts, which will report their course-taking, their grades and credits, their graduate status, and their test scores. It will also involve tracking students through the National Student Clearinghouse to discern long-term post-secondary outcomes. Analyses will determine whether (1) the intervention effects persist until the end of high school and into college, (2) the intervention effects are larger for students from racial, ethnic, and social class groups typically under-represented in higher education, and (3) whether the formal learning opportunities in a school and the informal learning climate explain variability across schools in where the intervention effect persists and where it does not.


National Study of Learning Mindsets 2018-2019 and Long-term Follow-up and Endowment Establishment

Prinicpal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: UBS Optimus Foundation (Switzerland)

We propose to study the effects of adolescents’ mindsets—and the mindset environments of their schools—on their long-term futures in school. For example, we will learn whether a small change in a student’s mindset during the transition to high school can have an effect on their education and well-being over the four years of high school and through the college years. With this long-term data, we will be able to understand the public health benefits of mindset approaches to behavior change. In addition, by understanding how mindset effects vary across schools, we can develop stronger theory about mindsets while also learning how to better target mindset interventions.


The Developing Aspirations of Girls of Color Towards Computer Science: A Comparative Examination of the Role of Teachers

Principal Investigator: Catherine Riegle-Crumb
Funded by: Kapor Center

Women of color comprise a substantial and critical segment of the United States population, yet they remain vastly underrepresented in computing education and the workforce, and often overlooked in research and interventions to increase diversity in computing. To address the underrepresentation of women of color across the computing landscape, the Kapor Center and the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology at Arizona State University have partnered to launch the Women of Color in Computing Researcher/Practitioner Collaborative. The purpose of the collaborative is to develop, test, and scale strategies, programs, and interventions to increase the participation and persistence of women of color in the computing ecosystem. Specifically, this initiative aims to accomplish this by building a robust foundational body of research on the participation of women of color across the computing pipeline, identifying obstacles and barriers unique to women of color in computing, exploring the efficacy of interventions to improve the outcomes for women of color in computing, and disseminating effective strategies to a broad group of stakeholders.


High School and Beyond Midlife Follow-up: Replicate Weights, Data Processing and Documentation

Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Funded by: Department of Education

Producing replicate weights, finalizing the data file preparation and documentation is important so that this rich source of educational data can be made available to the research community.  The High School & Beyond (HS&B) sophomores and seniors are sample members of the youngest Baby Boomer cohorts. HS&B is the first long-term panel study to provide information about the role of education and schools in shaping contemporary patterns of inequality and well-being over the life course. The midlife follow-up study data add vital information on work and labor force outcomes; education; cognitive and non-cognitive skills; disabilities; family circumstances; income and assets; and health and well-being in midlife. This project will construct replicate weights, and complete final data file preparation and the documentation for the 2014-2015 follow-ups to the HS&B sophomore and senior cohort. Our objective is to produce release-ready data files and documentation for the sophomore FU5 and senior FU4 HS&B cohorts so that they can be disseminated by NCES via its restricted use licenses.  


NMS Access

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: Manpower Demonstration Research Corp

This funding will support costs associated with providing access, and support for the National Mindset Study (NMS) data stored at the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin to the Mindset Scholars Network (MSN). Data and information will be provided to MSN scholars collaborating with David Yeager and his co-investigators.  Additionally, other MSN scholars with approved proposals to use the data will have access to the data, even if they are not directly collaborating with Yeager or other members of the PI team.  


National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM) Early Career Fellowship

Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Funded by: New Venture Fund

This study aims to support the Mindset Scholars Network’s 2017-2020 strategic plan and the National Study of Learning Mindsets early career fellowship to bring a broader, more diverse group of social scientists into the field of mindset research.


National Study of Learning Mindsets (Phase 2)

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by:
 Raikes Foundation

Over the last few decades, the science of learning mindsets has informed the development of strategies to address psychological barriers that prevent students from meeting their full potential within the contexts of opportunities available to them. The ultimate benefit of learning mindsets for students, schools, and society depends on the argument that benefits will be sustained over time—i.e., that 9th grade benefits will turn into higher graduation and college enrollment rates, better outcomes in the labor market, or a longer lifespan. These potential long-term outcomes of learning mindsets, in turn, will surely depend on school context—whether or not the school environments allow a student to express and sustain learning mindsets, and whether or not the curriculum is adequate for translating these mindsets into learning and achievement. As groundbreaking as the NSLM currently is, it cannot yet address these questions due to short-term follow-ups and insufficient information about school curricula and course-taking pathways. These limitations stand in the way of making the strongest possible argument that learning mindsets should be a permanent fixture in education and ultimately changing school practices and policies to help students in need. Catalyzing large-scale investments from governments and districts into learning mindsets will be facilitated by the careful documentation of long-term effects and the elucidation of the curricular structures of schools on which they depend. This kind of long-term best practices mindset research can become an innovative driving force of education science, as scholars from many disciplines produce high-impact articles and reports based on the NSLM.


Math Classrooms, Student Mindsets and STEM Pathways in High School

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: National Science Foundation

This project (proposed through EHR Core Research Level 2) investigates how 9th grade math classroom climates and student mindsets work together to broaden participation in STEM courses during the critical first years of high school. The project will enhance the National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM), which is the largest randomized-controlled trial (RCT) of a psychological intervention with high school students conducted to date, and the only one conducted in a generalizable, national probability sample of schools. The project has four objectives: (1) Code 8th to 10th grade STEM course-taking patterns among students who participated in the NSLM and describe inequalities . (2) Test whether a growth-mindset climate in 9th grade math predicts higher rates of persistence in 10th grade STEM courses among students from under-represented groups. (3) Test whether a growth-mindset climate in 9th grade math mediates the effect of growth-oriented teacher practices on STEM course persistence in 10th grade. (4) Test whether a growth mindset intervention in 9th grade is more (or less) effective at promoting advanced STEM course-taking in 10th grade, depending on the 9th grade math classroom climate.


Examining College Students' Attitudes About Guns to Develop Lessons for Intervention

Principal Investigator: Harel Shapira
Co-Investigator: Ken-Hou Lin
Funded by: Joyce Foundation

The goal of this project is to analyze the ways in which young adults (18-24) are socialized into and out of gun ownership by looking at how their experiences in college shape their attitudes and beliefs about guns. We know from existing research that educational attainment greatly reduces the likelihood that someone will own a gun, with those having college degrees being less likely to own guns than those without college degrees. However, we do not know why this is the case. In this project, we will use a combination of surveys, interviews, and focus groups, to uncover the processes and mechanisms by which young adults transition into and out of gun ownership. Through such a sociological perspective, grounded in making sense of how experiences and interactions shape attitudes and beliefs about guns, we will develop insights for the Joyce Foundation and help build intervention strategies to raise awareness of existing research on the risk of guns, change the growing perception of guns as making people safer, and help consumers make more informed
decisions about purchasing and using guns.


Stories and Numbers: Creating Safe Schools for LGBT Youth in Texas

Principal Investigator: Stephen Russell
Funded by: William T. Grant Foundation

Is there evidence that school policies and practices that are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) improve school experiences and school climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and all students? What are the needs specific to transgender students, and what inclusive policies are promising to support those needs? Given public attention to “transgender bathroom panics”, how can we be sure that transgender students are supported while the needs of LGB students are not overlooked, and that advances to support sexual orientation inclusion in schools are not thwarted? (How) Can students and parents be better prepared to advocate for SOGI-inclusive school policies and practices, and to respond to efforts to thwart them? These questions are urgent for organizations supporting LGBT students and their families in Texas. We propose a systematic review of existing research on SOGI-focused policies and practices, coupled with a strategic engagement/action plan and tools, to build capacity of students and parents to combine research evidence and data with their personal stories to make the case for positive change in schools.


Staff Support for the Mindset Scholars Network

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: New Venture Fund

The Mindset Scholars Network is a national, interdisciplinary newtork of scholars devoted to promoting student achievement through the science of learning mindsets. Broadly defined, learning mindsets are beliefs that shape an individual's interpretation of his or her social and intellectual experiences in school.


Educational Attainment, Geography, and U.S. Adult Mortality Risk

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Karas Montes
Co-Principal Investigator: Mark Hayward
Funded by: Syracuse University

Educational attainment is one of the strongest social determinants of U.S. adult mortality risk. Studies to explain the education-mortality association have focused more on the individual-level “proximal” mechanisms (e.g., smoking) than identifying the contextual conditions that undergird the association. This major knowledge gap has consequences for science and public policy; it limits the discovery of explanations and interventions. The gap may reflect the dominant view in U.S. research that education is a personal resource. Accordingly, U.S. studies of the education-mortality association have emphasized agentic mechanisms: individuals with more education are thought to coalesce healthy lifestyles, seek out medical knowledge, avoid financial hardship, and so on. While agentic explanations are important, they ignore the fact that individuals are embedded in social and political contexts that influence the extent to which education matters for mortality. Despite numerous studies showing this to be the case in Europe, there has been scant research in the U.S. The goal of this study is to examine how and why the education-mortality association varies across U.S. states.


Mentoring and Career Development: 2017 Yeager and Netter

Principal Investigator / Mentor: David Yeager
Additional Investigator / Mentee: Melanie Netter
Funded by: William T. Grant Foundation

While much research has examined predictors of cheating on skill assessments (i.e. exams) and academic misconduct more generally, research that uniquely investigates predictors of cheating on skill development tasks (e.g., homework) is limited. The present research tested the hypothesis
that greater self-regulation would predict less cheating on skill development tasks. Study 1 showed that self-reported self-regulation was predictive of retrospective reports of cheating on homework, not tests. Study 2, conducted with middle and high school students from low-income families, showed that greater self-regulation, measured from multiple informants and behavioral measures, predicted less cheating assessed via a novel behavioral measure of cheating on math work. Furthermore, student-reported and teacher-reported self-regulation predicted actual cheating on homework in school, as reported by teachers. The paper concludes with a discussion of possible methods for circumventing cheating with low-self-regulation individuals and improving educational outcomes as a result.


Peer Influences on Adolescents' Self-Concept, Achievement, and Future Aspirations in Science and Mathematics: Does Student Gender and Race Matter?

Principal Investigator: Nilanjana Dasgupta, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Additional Investigator: Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Co-Principal Investigator
Funded by: National Science Foundation, through University of Massachusetts Amherst

In the past thirty years a national debate has been brewing about the scarcity of women and racial/ethnic minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and its grave implications for the American workforce in the 21st century. From middle school through college, girls and women have performed less well on standardized tests in science and mathematics than their male peers and express less confidence and aspirations in these fields. Similar findings emerge for Black and Latino students in terms of STEM self-concept and aspirations. Recently, the gender gap in science and math performance has been closing but the gap in STEM self-concept and aspirations remains large. What drives these gender and race disparities in STEM? Many girls and students of color lose interest in STEM before college partly because the stereotype of the successful student in STEM is male, White or Asian, and nerdy. Girls are particularly affected by STEM stereotypes because of their incompatibility with gender role expectations. The proposed research in this grant focuses on solutions to the leaky pipeline by investigating peer influences and classroom dynamics that protect adolescent girls from STEM stereotypes using the Stereotype Inoculation Model. This present work concentrates on contact with other girl peers in science and math classrooms as "social vaccines" who inoculate adolescent girls' mind against negative stereotypes. Four objectives guide this work: (1) To examine whether learning STEM with all-girl peers vs. mixed-sex peers in middle school enhances girls' engagement in STEM. (2) To assess whether the presence of all-girl peers has similar effects on Black and Hispanic girls (who face gender and racial stereotypes in STEM) compared to White girls (who face gender but not racial stereotypes). (3) To identify features of classroom peer dynamics that predict girls' STEM outcomes and test whether they occur differentially in all-female vs. mixed-sex classes. (4) To test if peer dynamics identified as beneficial produce the same positive outcomes for girls when put in action in mixed-sex classes.


Discrimination and Achievement Disparities in Adolescence

Principal Investigator: Aprile Benner
Additional Investigator: Robert Crosnoe
Funded by: National Science Foundation

Our overarching goal is to examine the effects of race/ethnic discrimination on achievement and well-being. Our first aim is to examine the intersection of discrimination tied to multiple stigmatized identities. Latent class analysis of survey, daily diary, and interview data will document the extent to which youth are marginalized by peers, educators, or institutions due to their race/ethnicity, social class, weight, and/or sexual minority status. The second aim is to investigate variation in adolescents’ achievement and well-being linked to constellations of discrimination. Analyses of quantitative and qualitative data will unpack whether discrimination by specific perpetrators or discrimination tied to race/ethnicity and other social identities may be differentially linked to achievement, internalizing symptoms, and risky behaviors and potential mechanisms of influence. The final aim is to assess the degree to which the school context protects or exacerbates discrimination effects.


Adolescents and the Social Contexts of American Schools

Principal Investigator: Aprile Benner
Funded by: William T. Grant Foundation

Adolescents spend roughly half their waling hours in school, an institution that serves as a central setting of socialization and peer relations and a major playing field for competition and stratification.  For these reasons, the academic and social climates of schools (e.g., how well youth perform at school, what the prevailing norms and values are) matter.  The implications of school norms extend to both the short- and long-term outcomes of young people above and beyond formal instructional and structural aspects of schools traditionally targeted by educational policy and studied by researchers.  Developmentally-oriented scholars have made strides to characterize the social-psychological dimensions of school settings, helping to expand conceptualizations of school effects to areas of trust, marginalization, and prosociality.  This project builds on this foundation seeking to comprehensively characterize schools’ social contexts into distinct profiles of norms—or the typical and expected set of group-level beliefs and behaviors—across academic, social, and behavioral domains.  Such an approach taps into various undercurrents in the student body that represent how potentially beneficial and possibly harmful facets of school settings come together to influence young people’s development.  This project uses a sequential mixed-methods design with two decades of nationally-representative data from MTF and collection and analysis of ethnographic data in two Texas schools.


Design Technology and Engineering Education for English Learner Students: Project DTEEL

Principal Investigator: Rebecca Callahan
Additional Investigator: Richard Crawford, Co-Principal Investigator
Funded by: National Science Foundation

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. One significant challenge facing elementary STEM education is the varied preparation of English-language learners. The project addresses this with an innovative use of engineering curriculum to build on the English-language learners' prior experiences. The project will support teachers' learning about strategies for teaching English-language learners and using engineering design tasks as learning opportunities for mathematics, science and communication skills. 

The project's cross-disciplinary approach is grounded in both inquiry-based science education research and bilingual cognition research. These complementary foci bridge research areas to highlight how engineering experiences for students can capitalize on bilingual students' experiences as problem solvers. The project will develop teachers' ability and instructional efficacy for both STEM and bilingual student instruction. The project adapts a previously developed curriculum for engineering education by adding resources and tools to support bilingual students. The research design primarily measures teacher-level phenomenon such as implementation of instructional strategies, STEM self-efficacy and ability to address the academic development of bilingual students through engineering design activities. Data collected include classroom observations, teacher surveys, focus groups, and teacher interviews. Student assessments will be piloted in the final year of the project.


Preschool, Family, and Community among Mexican Immigrants

Principal Investigator: Robert Crosnoe
Additional Investigator: Tama Leventhal, Co-Principal Investigator, Tufts University
Funded by: Institute of Education Sciences

This project will identify mechanisms that select children from Mexican immigrant families into preschool and then condition its role in their school readiness to elucidate avenues of policy action for increasing their realization of early educational opportunities.   The research aims are to (1) quantitatively estimate links among family and community characteristics, preschool enrollment, and school readiness in the Mexican-origin population with special attention to diversity by acculturation, and (2) leverage qualitative data in public preschools in a major immigration state to unpack Mexican immigrant parents’ motivations for enrolling children in preschool and teachers’ perceptions of such motivations.  The focal family/community selection mechanisms include necessity, human capital considerations, systemic connections, and child elicitation.


Collaborative Research: Diversifying the STEM Labor Force: Are Women and the Foreign-Born Complementary or Additive?

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Glass
Additional Investigator: Sharon Sassler, Co-Principal Investigator, Cornell University
Funded by: National Science Foundation

The need for STEM workers is expected to grow at or above the national growth rate over the next decade (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2012). In recent decades the U.S. government has focused a good deal of attention on increasing the presence of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. The science and technology labor force has already diversified in important ways over the past few decades. Women's representation in science and technology education and employment has increased significantly, though their representation remains considerably smaller in fields such as engineering and computer science. This research explores whether the particular components of the STEM labor force - such as the representation of women in particular fields, or the share of coworkers of a particularly nativity or race - are associated with retention in the STEM work force or the gender wage gap. In fields where women account for a larger representation of STEM workers, for example, is the gender wage gap narrower? How is that relationship influenced by the group size of foreign-born workers, and does it matter whether these workers received their education and training in the United States or abroad?

There are several social scientific views that can be evoked in seeking to account for the dynamics involved in occupational sex composition and occupational wage rates. These perspectives are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but each focuses on distinct ways in which employers may exhibit preferences by gender or ethnicity. Our project will utilize Queuing theory and Devaluation theory to explore how the changing composition of the STEM labor force promotes (or retards) the retention and earnings of women in STEM. Such an approach will enable us to move beyond a simple gender dichotomy (men/women) to assess variation within gender (native-born/foreign-born). Data come from pooling six waves of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT), covering years from 1995 through 2008. SESTAT is comprised of three ongoing surveys designed to create a nationally representative sample of science and engineering college degree holders (Kannankutty & Wilkinson, 1999). The restricted SESTAT data include detailed information regarding labor force participation, occupation categories, educational attainment, and demographic characteristics. The proposed project will include three sets of analyses, including descriptive analyses establishing trends in STEM employment by gender and nativity, as well a time since degree; multivariate logistic regression models incorporating predictors of employment in a STEM profession, by sex, and how group representation of the foreign-born moderates these associations; and OLS regression of women's and men's logged wages on observable characteristics.


Collaborative Research: Early Career Transitions into STEM Employment: Processes Shaping Retention and Satisfaction

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Glass
Additional Investigator: Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Co-Principal Investigator
Funded by: National Science Foundation

Contemporary debates about STEM education and the STEM labor force center around claims that there is both a shortage of trained workers for the scientific and technical needs of employers, and that this shortage could be ameliorated with larger numbers of women and minorities trained in STEM disciplines where they are currently underrepresented. Our primary research questions deal with both issues by first investigating the transition from STEM education into the labor force for women and men, and then investigating the role of employment conditions, alternative job opportunities, and workplace climate for retention. Our goal is to understand the large gender difference in occupational retention among STEM graduates in the early career, and the results of field departures for women’s and men’s occupational success and earnings.


The Social and Organizational Determinants of Employment-based Health Insurance

Principal Investigator: Ken-Hou Lin
Funded by: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The United States has experienced a significant decline in the coverage of employment-based health insurance in recent decades. The proportion of Americans who were covered by employment-based health plans declined from 62.1% in 1987 to 54.9% in 2012. The coverage is expected to decrease further under the Affordable Care Act without the employer mandate. While previous studies suggest that the rising premium cost is responsible for the decline in coverage, several field studies indicate that employers are reluctant to provide health insurance even when a sizable proportion of the premium is subsidized. In other words, addressing financial factors alone is unlikely to ensure affordable access to health care. The purpose of this study is to develop a more complete understanding of the social and organizational determinants of employment-based health insurance. Particularly, the research team will investigate how the changing labor market and its interaction with the financial costs jointly influence the provision and the terms of employment-based health insurance.

With the approval from the U.S. Census, this project will utilize restricted-use, establishment-level measures from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance/Employer Component (MEPS-IC), combined with other measures from the Longitudinal Business Data (LBD), EEO-1 reports from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the S&P’s Compustat, RiskMetrics, and the Corporate Library datasets. We examine how two trends in the labor market are associated with the provision and the terms of employment-based health insurance. The first is the rise of the new conception of employment, a shift in the employment contract between employers and employees that emphasizes market-driven flexibility, weak commitment, and focuses on increasing shareholder value. The second looks at the decline in labor unions, decreasing the bargaining power of workers and potentially decreasing labor’s ability to argue that health insurance is a vital component of compensation. Lastly, we analyze how the effect of costs is moderated by the employment model and workers’ collective bargaining power. This project will allow us to develop a comprehensive understanding of the organizational processes that contribute to variation in insurance coverage, as well as how healthcare policies and financial incentives could be better designed to improve accessibility through employment.


Evaluation of Plan Sarmiento

Principal Investigator: Leigh Linden
Funded by: World Bank

The objective of this contract is to provide the Ministry of Education of the City of Buenos Aires technical assistance in the development and implementation of its impact evaluation agenda. By accompanying the city of Buenos Aires in their impact evaluation agenda, of which Plan S@rmiento is just one part, the Bank hopes to promote evidence-based decision making, transparency and accountability through information about the effects of the City’s major education programs.


eRACE: Examining Race, Academics, Contexts, and Equality

Postdoctoral Fellow: Kelly Minor
Faculty Mentor: Aprile Benner
Funded by: William T. Grant Foundation

Together, Aprile Benner and Kelly Minor have developed a formal mentoring plan to support their development as scholars. Their collaborative research will focus on the individual assets and contextual affordances that promote young people’s postsecondary matriculation and ultimate educational attainment. This work places explicit attention on inequalities in who attends and completes college, which is particularly critical given the role that educational attainment plays in reinforcing such inequalities.


High School and Beyond: Human Capital over the Life Cycle as a Foundation for Working Longer

Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Co-Principal Investigators: Sandra E. Black; Eric Grodsky, University of Wisconsin; and John Robert Warren, University of Minnesota
Additional Investigators: Kelly Raley, Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Debra Umberson
Funded by: Alfred P. Sloan FoundationDepartment of Education

This project is re-contacting and studying the lives of the nationally representative High School and Beyond (HSB) sophomore sample members just before most turn 50 years old. Rich information about respondents' cognitive and non-cognitive skills and other aspects of their lives collected in the high school and postsecondary years will be linked to newly collected information about their current cognitive and non-cognitive skills, work, health, family roles, and retirement planning at midlife. The new database will be used to study a number of issues related to the consequences for midlife labor force participation of adolescent and early adult circumstances and characteristics. The project will increase our knowledge of the relationships among work, aging, and cognitive and non-cognitive functioning over the life cycle. The historical period occupied by the HSB cohort provides a unique opportunity to study the effects of labor market demand shocks (including the Great Recession) and technological change and computerization on employment patterns for different population subgroups. Re-contacting respondents will provide crucial proof-of-concept and baseline measures for future data collection as respondents' age. The new data infrastructure, composed of a robust database and a multidisciplinary community of users, will support cutting-edge research in a broad set of disciplines, from economics, sociology and demography to health and aging, family studies, education, organizational behavior, psychology, and even extending to more distal fields of genetics, medicine (general and disease specific), criminology and other areas that touch on labor force concerns among older workers.


Collaborative Research: Building on STEP to Understand Variation in STEM Entry and Persistence

Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Additional Investigators: Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Co-Principal Investigator
Funded by: National Science Foundation

This project is collaborative with Eric Grodsky at the University of Wisconsin at Madison to study STEM entry and persistence in higher education.  The project builds on the knowledge generated by NSF STEP Type 1 projects to enrich our understanding of student pathways to a STEM baccalaureate and the impact of different types of interventions on those pathways across diverse students and STEM fields. The project is collecting and analyzing data from Type 1 project sites to uncover the mechanisms that underlie the success or failure of the Type 1 projects to increase the number of students who enter and complete bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields.  Beyond their utility for increasing the foundation of STEM human capital through the students they serve, these Type 1 projects have tremendous potential to more fully address STEP’s basic mandate to increase the number of students earning degrees in STEM fields. Each of these interventions may be viewed as a natural experiment designed to induce students to choose and persist in targeted STEM majors. This collection of experiments holds potential to inform our understanding of the pathways students follow into, out of and through STEM fields, differences among students and fields in the structures of these pathways, the effects of different innovations on the process of STEM degree attainment, and especially how interventions support successful STEM degree completion.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE 1317206 and DUE 1317196. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Collaborative Research: STEM Education Effects on a Diverse Workforce's Development over the Life Cycle

Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Additional Investigators: Sandra E. Black; and John Robert Warren, University of Minnesota
Funded by: National Science Foundation

This study, which is collaborative with Rob Warren at the University of Minnesota, investigates how STEM skills and training that individuals acquire during high school and college contribute to their workforce success and the types of occupations they enjoy in midlife. It uses the High School & Beyond study (HS&B) database, a nationally representative study of high school sophomores in 1980. HS&B contains a large enough sample of African Americans and Latinos (including those who earned postsecondary degrees) to provide information about how our education system can prepare diverse students to fully participate in a complex and rapidly changing workforce, even during middle and later adulthood, and long past the completion of their formal education. The HS&B is an ideal vehicle for analyzing the priorities and best approaches to broadening participation in our STEM-based workforce through education that has lasting effects on workforce development among our diverse population today.

A key aspect of our rapidly changing economy is the high demand for workers with STEM skills who can innovate and flexibly adapt to innovation. What skills make individuals able to adapt and succeed? And what did their schools do to prepare them? To address these questions, this study has four research aims: 1. Identify the aspects of STEM training in schools—from specific coursework to degree attainment and field of degree—that contribute to workforce success and flexibility during early adulthood and in later midlife work. 2. Analyze whether the relationship between STEM training and workforce success is the same for all workers, and if not, how it differs for women and men, African Americans, Latinos, and Whites. 3. Analyze whether the relationship between STEM training and workforce success differs for adults who were identified as disabled while in school in comparison to those who are not. 4. Produce a database on HS&B sample members’ occupations that can be used by the broader research community to generate new knowledge on workforce development and broadening participation in STEM. For more information, please see http://sites.utexas.edu/hsb/.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. HRD 1348527 and HRD 1348557. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Collaborative Research: STEM Education and Workforce Participation over the Life Cycle: The Intersection of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Disability Status

Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Additional Investigator: Sandra E. Black, Co-Principal Investigator
Funded by: National Science Foundation

This collaborative study with Rob Warren of the University of Minnesota and Eric Grodsky of the University of Wisconsin is investigating how the STEM skills and training that people gain in secondary and postsecondary school contribute to their ability to continue to learn and adapt to changing workplace expectations even after they leave school, thereby contributing to their workforce success in midlife.  This project extends the work begun with our other projects, STEM Education Effects on a Diverse Workforce's Development over the Life Cycle (National Science Foundation) and High School and Beyond: Human Capital over the Life Cycle as a Foundation for Working Longer (Alfred P. Sloan), by collecting a new round of interviews from the High School and Beyond (HS&B) senior cohort. Combined, the sophomore and senior cohorts will provide adequate statistical power for population estimates about the long-run processes through which STEM skills learned in school translate into later life adaptation at the intersection of gender, race and ethnicity, and disability status for persons who are underrepresented in STEM.

The project has the following two aims: 1) Re-interview members of the HS&B senior cohort and produce a database of the 2014 follow-up of that can be used by the broader research community to generate new knowledge on workforce development and broadening participation in STEM, including for students and workers at the intersection of underrepresented groups, and 2)Investigate the STEM training that students acquire and the STEM competencies they develop in schools from specific coursework, test scores, and grades to degree attainment and field of degree and analyze how these contribute to workforce success and flexibility in midlife work for persons with diverse, intersecting attributes, including those who are underrepresented in STEM. The intersecting attributes of particular interest are: (A) Women and men of color (African American and Hispanic) and (B) Women and men who have disabilities. For more information, please see http://sites.utexas.edu/hsb/.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants numbers, DRL 1420691, DRL 1420330, and DRL 1420572. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Feasibility Study for Development of Civic Engagement from Adolescence to Midlife

Principal Investigator: Chandra Muller
Funded by: Spencer Foundation

This study will assess the feasibility and utility of attaching recent voting records to the recently collected identifiers from the High School and Beyond (HS&B) 2014 sophomore cohort follow-up study. HS&B provided the empirical foundation for Coleman’s (1988) conceptualization of social capital and for understanding Catholic school effects (e.g., Bryk, Lee and Holland 1993; Coleman and Hoffer 1987), and the cohort benchmarks a crucial period in our nation’s history. Sophomore cohort sample members were mostly born in 1964-­‐1965, at the end of the Baby Boom. They are in the first post-­‐Civil Rights generation and transitioned to college during the expansion of affirmative action admissions policies. The HS&B cohort is more racially and ethnically diverse than earlier contemporary cohorts, and the immigrants are of color, in contrast to previous waves of immigrants, in part because they came of age after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (the Hart-­‐Celler Act). The HS&B sample members grew up when our schools and communities were becoming desegregated, and they now face retirement under conditions of substantial socioeconomic inequality. As our population is becoming more diverse and inequality is increasing, understanding the mechanisms through which the high schools impact adolescents during this formative period in ways that extend to long range civic engagement is a priority.


Multi-State Study of Monetary Sanctions

Principal Investigator: Becky Pettit
Additional Investigator: Alexes Harris, parent project PI, University of Washington
Funded by: Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Recent media attention on the justice practices of imposing fiscal penalties highlights the need for a multi-state study of the system of monetary sanctions.   The aim of this 5-year project is to better understand how the system of monetary sanctions operates across the United States and to provide empirical evidence of the ways in which fiscal penalties sentenced in municipal, felony and Federal systems of justice affect people unable to make payments. The project goal is to encourage a national dialogue around the sentencing of monetary sanctions and the generation of a data set that will allow for within state and national study of the system of monetary sanctions. This study will provide empirical evidence to answer questions about the widespread nature of this sentencing practice and the experiences and consequences for debtors across the nation.   The triangulation of data (observations, interview, survey, and automated court records) will allow the research team to describe this national phenomenon by detailing the amounts of outstanding debt and identify the numbers and characteristics of debtors.  This study will also provide a broader understanding of the different ways states and local actors choose to implement the law and decide to monitor and sanction debtors.  And, the study will provide evidence from across the United States of how this sentencing practice affects those who receive such sentences.  


The Role of Academic Achievement and Social Inclusion in Broadening STEM Participation: Intended and Actual Attainment at the Intersection of Gender and Race/Ethnicity

Principal Investigator: Catherine Riegle-Crumb
Additional Investigator: Chandra Muller, Co-Principal Investigator
Funded by: National Science Foundation

Despite decades of prior research investigating disparities in STEM participation, much remains unknown about how to overcome the obstacles to equality. This study will make an important new contribution to the literature by examining the STEM trajectories of different gender and racial/ethnic subgroups with an explicit focus on the experiences of minority females as well as those of minority males to gain a more comprehensive and comparative picture of contemporary patterns of inequality. Specifically, it examines differences between subgroups in intended as well as actual STEM attainment, and investigates how patterns of academic achievement and social inclusion contribute to such disparities. The project will utilize data from five large-scale and longitudinal datasets that collectively provide the chance to investigate STEM trajectories at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender from 6th grade to the end of college.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. HRD 1348819. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


The Role of SOGI-Focused School Policies and Practices on Student Well-being

Principal Investigator: Stephen Russell
Funded by: New Venture Fund

Research has shown links between a number of safe school strategies and academic, social, and behavioral success among sexual minority students (students who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ)). We will carry out a study of population-based data from schools, school principals, and students that will contribute to fuller understanding of the role of school policies, programs and practices focused on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), and their association with school climate and student well-being and achievement. The study will address a number of limitations in the existing knowledge base; in doing so, the results will directly address strategy and planning questions: Which SOGI-focused policies or practices have the greatest impact on school climate and student well-being?


Identifying and Reducing Job Discrimination

Principal Investigator: Debra Umberson
Additional Investigators: David Pedulla, Stanford University; and Devah Pager, Harvard University
Funded by: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Discrimination based on race, gender, and parental status remains a persistent problem in the allocation of opportunity. Individuals are routinely denied access to employment, housing, credit, and other social and economic resources on the basis of their social group membership, and these individual level processes contribute to systematic and enduring forms of inequality. Labor market discrimination represents a particular concern, given the importance of economic selfsufficiency for individual, family, and child wellbeing. This project will generate original research to understand and address contemporary labor market discrimination, focusing on three main areas: (1) identifying the organizational policies and procedures that exacerbate or reduce discrimination against racial minorities, women, and parents; (2) understanding feedback effects of discrimination for job seekers; and (3) exploring interventions that may reduce discrimination.


Do Gaps in Test Scores, Noncognitive Skills, and Health Grow Faster in School or Out? New Analyses Using the ECLS-K:2010

Principal Investigator: Paul von Hippel 
Funded by: Russell Sage Foundation

There are large gaps between children of different races, genders, and  socioeconomic levels--not just gaps in test scores, but also gaps in noncognitive skills and health. To what degree are these gaps due to school influences, and to what degree are gaps due to non-school influences?  To answer this question, we ask whether gaps grow faster before or after children start school, and whether gaps grow faster when school is in than when school is out. Multilevel growth models and nonparametric statistics are applied to new, nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11.


Understanding Why, For Whom, and Under What Conditions Mindset Interventions Promote Achievement: A Nationally Representative Experiment

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Additional Investigators: Robert Crosnoe; Chandra Muller; Gregory Walton, Stanford University; Carol Dweck, Stanford University; and Chris Hulleman, University of Virginia - Co-Principal Investigators
Funded by: Spencer Foundation

Increasingly, there has been great enthusiasm for the use of mindset interventions, such as those teaching a “growth mindset” about ability, as a method for reducing educational inequality. Yet this brings with it the possibility for over-claiming the evidence base regarding the efficacy of these approaches in different contexts and for different types of students. A lack of appreciation of the context-dependency of mindset intervention effects could hasten their misuse and potentially result in a promising idea being prematurely discarded. In this context, our interdisciplinary team seeks to launch a novel collaboration that will produce a best-in-class dataset for scholars of different backgrounds to understand where mindset interventions are most effective, where they could be made more effective, and where they are unnecessary. More specifically, we will carry out an individual-level, double-blind, active-placebo-controlled randomized growth mindset intervention experiment in a national probability sample of 9th graders attending U.S. public high schools. Outcomes will include course failure rates, overall GPA, and challenging course selections. The experiment will combine best practices for causal inference—i.e., a randomized experiment—with best practices for generalizability—i.e., a probability sample. It will also combine measures of individual differences that might moderate treatment effects, as well as measures of settings that might moderate treatment effects. As a result, it will be possible to systematically investigate the resources and social processes that are required to sustain the initial effects of a mindset treatment on longitudinal academic outcomes, for different student sub-groups. This study will be among the first to develop theory at the intersection of precise experimental psychology, lifespan human development, the sociology of inequality, and the economics of human capital. We will also make the dataset feely available, to ensure that later generations of scholars can carry out this type of interdisciplinary inquiry.


Understanding How and Why Psychological Intervention Effects Depend on Settings: A Randomized Experiment in a National Probability Sample of High Schools

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: William T. Grant Foundation

How can settings help young people thrive in the face of difficulty and reach their full potential?  Psychological research on academic mindsets has produced a number of important theories and interventions (Dweck, 2006; Yeager & Walton, 2011).  However not enough is known about how these intervention strategies are affected by setting-level processes.  This project will address this by carrying out an unprecedented psychological intervention experiment in a nationally representative sample of U.S. high schools. We will deliver a previously-tested intervention, randomized at the student level, and examine its effects on achievement across 100 schools. We will also collect efficient but diverse measures of setting factors from multiple informants.  By including a probability sample of schools, for the first time it will be possible to understand how the causal effect of individual-level psychological processes depend critically on social processes, resources, and allocation of resources across settings.  Knowing where mindset interventions are most effective and what setting factors can make them more effective can inform policy about the best methods to promote youth development and reduce inequality.


Estimating and Understanding Effects of Teaching Teens that People Can Change.

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Additional Investigators: Christopher Beevers, Co-Investigator; Robert Josephs, Co-Investigator
Funded by: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The transition to high school contains major social stressors and coincides with a sharp increase in depression and other internalizing symptoms. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to identify effective universal preventative interventions for depression and other internalizing disorders among high school students. This research integrates theories and methods across social, developmental, clinical, and biological psychology to address this gap in knowledge. This research focuses on the underlying beliefs or implicit theories that affect reactions to stressful social environments. An entity theory of personality is the belief that people do not have the potential to change. It is known to lead to maladaptive reactions in the wake of social stressors, such as the conclusion that one is a “loser” or “not likable.” By contrast, an incremental theory is the belief that people have the potential to change. It has been found to facilitate more hopeful interpretations that social stressors can improve. Preliminary published research with multiple independent samples (N =599) has found that an efficient, but well-timed and highly-persuasive, self-administered intervention to teach adolescents an incremental theory of personality can prevent increases in depressive symptoms over the first year of high school by 40%, nine months post-intervention. However, it is important to estimate the size of this effect in large (N~2,000), heterogeneous samples. With an eye toward improving theory and the intervention, this research will also identify students who benefit the most (or least) from the incremental theory message. Finally, daily-diary and laboratory stress methods will identify the principle mediating social-cognitive, neuroendocrine, and cardiovascular reactions that are implicated in the treatment effects. The incremental theory intervention has reduced cortisol over a week and immediate cardiovascular threat responses to social evaluative stressors in the laboratory. In summary, this research aims to use large samples to provide needed evidence about the use of an incremental theory intervention to prevent internalizing symptoms that accompany the transition to high school, and uncover social-cognitive and biological mechanisms. 


A National Evaluation of an Intervention to Promote Adolescent Thriving

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Additional Investigators:
 Christopher Beevers, Co-Investigator; Robert Josephs, Co-Investigator
Funded by: John Templeton Foundation 

We ask this “big question:” Is it possible to instill a more resilient mindset in adolescents across the entire nation? We hypothesize that this aim can be accomplished with an intervention with near-zero marginal cost to scale, and that this could promote well-being and peaceful resolution of conflict. We furthermore hypothesize that this could be done using the most rigorous type of scientific evidence available—that is, a double-blind clinical trial conducted in a national probability sample of U.S. public high schools. More specifically, we are seeking to carry out a rigorous, definitive, national evaluation of a highly scalable intervention to promote adolescent resilience and thriving: an incremental theory (or “growth mindset”) of personality intervention. This intervention is broader than growth mindset of intelligence, which concerns only the malleability of intelligence, in that it focuses on whether someone’s moral and social traits in general can change or are fixed.


Greasing the Hinges, Reducing the Friction: A Psychological Approach to Opening Gateways to Post-Secondary Success in Teens

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: Greater Texas Foundation

I will carry out two specific areas of research: (1) research on the transition to community college for first-generation students, specifically focusing on issues of placement in remediation and issues of bureaucratic barriers that undermine motivation; and (2) research on the transition to flagship public universities for first-generation students, specifically focusing on issues of “imposter syndrome” and questions about intellectual ability resulting from struggles in class.  I take a psychological approach. In particular, I emphasize experimental treatments that may be applied at scale at near-zero financial cost and that may close a portion of institutional achievement gaps. At a high level, psychological treatments apply a kind of “lubricant” to sources of “psychological friction” in the transition to college. As a result, they offer a method to disproportionately benefit students who may have otherwise been “roughed up” during their journey through college.


Developing a Research Agenda for the Transfer of Mindsets in Education and Employment

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Additional Investigator: Chris Hulleman, parent project PI, University of Virginia
Funded by: The Joyce Foundation

The last ten years have witnessed an explosion of ideas and research evidence demonstrating that when individuals have the right intra- and inter-personal skills (i.e., personal success skills, non-cognitive skills, soft skills), they go further and enjoy the journey more than if they don’t. This is evidenced by the popularity of words like ‘grit’, ‘growth mindset’, and ‘character’. In particular, social scientists have shown that our attitudes and perceptions – of ourselves, of others, of the context – are strong determinants of successful outcomes. These burgeoning ideas, which we’ll call mindsets, couldn’t come at a better time for public and private sector employers, who increasingly cite the lack of these skills as among the top barriers individual and organizational success. Increasingly, employers have noted that graduates are not entering the workforce with the mindsets needed to be successful. There are numerous points throughout employment that a business can lose employees. The decision to seek advancement within one’s job or career requires, in part, a desire by the employee to embrace increased responsibility, challenge, and growth. Crucially, it seems that employees are not gaining the mindsets they need in their training programs to be prepared for the workforce, whether their training was is in K-12 education, post-secondary education, or on the job training. However, we know little about mindsets in the context of work, and in particular how and where we might intervene to promote mindsets that enable more successful employment outcomes. Fortunately, there’s an expanding science of how to intervene on mindsets from education that we can utilize to identify constructs and interventions relevant to the employment context. Thus, it is pertinent to apply some of what we know about mindsets in education to understand the most applicable ideas and important research questions to enhance productive mindsets at work.


The Mindset Scholars Network

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: Raikes Foundation

The Mindset Scholars Network is a national, interdisciplinary network of scholars devoted to promoting student achievement through the science of learning mindsets. Broadly defined, learning mindsets are beliefs that shape an individual’s interpretation of his or her social and intellectual experiences in school. These mindsets include students’ beliefs about the nature of ability, and the extent to which they feel that they belong in their school environment and see the value of their schoolwork in achieving their long-­‐term goals. These psychological factors affect students’ motivation to engage and persist in challenging academic work.

The mission of the Mindset Scholars Network is to conduct cross-­‐disciplinary research and outreach that advances the theory of academic mindsets and informs its use in efforts to improve outcomes and expand educational opportunity. The Network will accomplish this mission by creating new scientific knowledge and disseminating it to influential stakeholders who determine how and where the mindset approach will be applied in educational settings.


Toward a Sociological, Contextual Perspective on Psychological Interventions

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Funded by: William T. Grant Foundation

This proposal seeks to understand heterogeneity in intervention effect sizes as a function of educational settings. The proposed work has both practical and theoretical implications, in that it will help practitioners understand the boundary conditions for using psychological interventions as well as lead to more integrative theories of how psychology and social processes combine to influence adolescent development.  The project will draw on data from over 12,000 students who have already participated in study experiments, as well as on data from novel experiments planned for later in the study, including a new nationally representative intervention experiment with middle school students to be conducted at the request of the White House and several philanthropic foundations.


Intervening to Reduce Educational Underperformance in Houston and America: A Test of a Growth Mindset in Probability Samples

Principal Investigator: David Yeager
Additional Investigators: Chandra Muller, Co-Principal Investigator; Robert Crosnoe, Co-Principal Investigator
Funded by: Houston Endowment Inc.

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with a leading research firm selected through a competitive bidding process, will conduct a large-scale, randomized mindset experiment with a stratified, national probability sample of 9th grade in the 2015-2016 school year. The primary outcomes will be official grades, test scores, absences, and discipline incidents. The expected sample size is 100 schools and roughly 40,000 students. Supplementing this, we will select 10 of the 48 qualified HISD schools, at random within blocks that control for race/ethnic composition and school poverty.  Hence it will be possible to make generalizations about the nation as a whole as well as Houston in particular.


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