Panel: Social-Psychological Insights for Education Policy – Contexts Matter

Friday, November 3, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Haymarket (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Maithreyi Gopalan, Indiana University
Panel Chairs:  Maureen Pirog, Indiana University
Discussants:  Greg J. Duncan, University of California, Irvine

Message Intended Is Not Message Received: Shame, Stigma, and Disengagement in the Academic Probation Notification Process
Shannon Brady1, Kathryn M Kroeper2, Amelia G Petermann1,3, X. Alice Li1,3, Elise Ozier2, Alison Blodorn1,3, Natasha Krol1,3, Katie Mathias4 and Gregory Walton1, (1)Stanford University, (2)Indiana University, (3)The College Transition Collaborative, (4)University of Waterloo

Teachers Mindsets Effect on Peer Teachers’ Beliefs and Behaviors
Susana Claro, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Aneeta Rattan, London Business School

Socio-Psychological Interventions: Can They Improve STEM Persistence and Beliefs?
Peter McPartlan, Sabrina M. Solanki, Brian Sato, Di Xu and Greg J. Duncan, University of California, Irvine

Recently, light-touch social-psychological interventions have shown considerable promise for promoting student success. However, in analyzing the policy implications of such interventions, it is vitally important to understand external validity—whether an intervention would have a similar impact if replicated in a different context or if it were to be scaled up. The evidence to date suggests that it doesn't work for all students in all contexts. This panel aims to examine such recent efforts to better understand, measure, and evaluate the effect of social-psychological interventions that promote student outcomes in multiple educational settings.

This panel includes four papers that feature different social-psychological interventions that examines for whom, and in what contexts these social psychological interventions work or don’t work. Each of these papers approach student success from a sound social-psychological theoretical perspective and are implemented in a variety of educational settings: broad access public universities, and selective-public/private universities in the US and Chile. Collectively, these papers showcase the potential for integrating psychological insights into the design and evaluation of interventions that promote retention, achievement, and other significant student outcomes.

The first paper, “Message Intended is Not Message Received: Shame, Stigma, and Disengagement in the Academic Probation Notification Process,” demonstrates a bottom-up approach to understanding and measuring students’ internal psychological processes that might lead to academic disengagement when students are placed on academic probation. Brady et al. use higher education administrator survey responses and randomized trials to understand the academic probation process and evaluate its effects on students’ psychological and academic outcomes in six different universities in the US. The second paper, “All Social Belonging Interventions are not Created Equal – Evidence from Postsecondary Institutions in Indiana,” explores the heterogeneity in treatment effects of an intervention aimed to promote social belonging among freshmen students in two universities—one flagship public university and another less-selective public university located in Indiana. The third paper, “Teacher mindsets effect on peer teachers’ beliefs and behaviors," uses an experimental design to explore how teachers’ mindsets and beliefs can be shaped by peer teachers. Furthermore, the authors also explore how the peer teachers’ mindsets and beliefs influence the kinds of feedback they may provide to struggling students—that has in the past influenced student outcomes significantly. Finally, the fourth paper, “Socio-Psychological Interventions: Can They Improve STEM Persistence and Beliefs” explores the potential benefits of both a belongingness and a growth mindset intervention upon first-year Biology students in a large public university in the US.

Educational interventions designed to improve student outcomes should strive to understand the often hard-to-measure psychological processes that may hamper at-risk students to persist and succeed. Borrowing from the tenets of translational medical science, education science must also incorporate multi-site research designs, when possible, to acknowledge and appreciate the heterogeneity of the educational contexts within which policies and interventions need to be implemented to promote student success.

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