Research in Progress

We research low cost, high impact teaching innovations in higher education.  Our core research questions are: What real world, sustainable practices really work to decrease achievement gaps and lead to measurable, long term learning in higher education? For whom do they work? And why?

Some Current Work:

Scientific Learning in Introductory Psychology. Students who take the MCAT2015 need to know not only all of the content in an Intro Psych text, but have the skills to interpret graphs and statistics and apply experimental research design.  These same skills are critical for psychology majors and a scientifically literate public as well.  We are finding ways to teach scientific literacy skills in large sections of Introductory Psychology.

Adaptive Quizzing in Introductory Psychology. Adaptive quizzes are online homework quizzes that adjust the level of difficulty based on students’ performance. Adaptive learning holds a lot of promise for large sections of diverse students, but there is not enough rigorous research to know if it helps, makes no difference, or even harms student performance. Preliminary work on one type of adaptive online homework suggests, after controlling for confounding factors like pre-existing psychology knowledge, a small but reliably positive effect.

Motivational Interventions to Increase Learning and Persistence. From a variety of studies in other labs, we know that we can help students adopt mindsets that lead to persisting in the face of challenging work and feedback. We are trying some very brief, low cost interventions that might make a difference in large classrooms.

Rural Student College Success. What leads rural students to enroll in and graduate from college?  We are working to disentangle the many possible factors – distance from campus, socioeconomic status, K12 opportunities, social support, college culture  and so forth – to inform the most effective interventions possible.







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