College of Liberal Arts

Psychology Professor Chairs White House Convening on ‘Academic Mindsets’

Tue, Jun 4, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas – David Yeager, assistant professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, served as program chair and co-organizer for a special convening session titled “Excellence in Education: The Importance of Academic Mindsets” on May 16 at the White House.

Yeager led a diverse group of experts to determine how to improve motivation and address systematic underperformance in U.S. educational settings.

“The field of ‘non-cognitive skills’ has rapidly gained attention in education, following on bestselling books such as Paul Tough’s ‘How Children Succeed,’” Yeager says. “Meanwhile, programs that we have evaluated in schools—reading and writing exercises that teach students true facts about the nature of academic success and remove psychological barriers to learning—can reduce achievement gaps even months and years later.”

The White House hosted the meeting to spur a new coalition of leading academics, educational practitioners, government officials and philanthropic foundations to effectively use this research to improve educational outcomes, Yeager says.

The speakers explored the need to accelerate learning in three major areas: the principles of effective educational intervention; the everyday practices that can affect motivation in diverse classroom settings; and improved assessments of the “non-cognitive” factors that relate to student success. 

A developmental psychologist, Yeager seeks to understand the psychological roots of major problems facing adolescents, such as academic underperformance, bullying or obesity. He is a former middle school teacher and has a passion for using developmental psychology to promote adolescent well being and educational equality. Go to this website for more details about his recent study.

The daylong meeting was sponsored by the Raikes Foundation and co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Education.

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