Researcher Wins $1.4 Million Grant to Help Students Improve Motivation for Academic Achievement

July 10, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — Matthew McGlone, associate professor of communication studies at The University of Texas at Austin, and a team of researchers has been awarded $1.4 million from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, to help eighth and ninth grade students improve their motivation¬†for academic achievement¬†via novel and engaging activities.

This project builds on existing research showing that students' academic performance improves when they are taught that intelligence is malleable and that people can get smarter in response to intellectual effort.

McGlone's co-principal investigators on the project are Joshua Aronson, associate professor of psychology at New York University, and Jennifer Mangels, associate professor of psychology at Baruch College.

IES is a branch of the U.S. Department of Education that funds research studies on ways to improve academic achievement.

McGlone's research has focused on instructional communication, particularly the strategies educators can use to promote positive identity development in students. He also has explored the use of computer games to measure and modify children's belief in gender stereotypes.

In this project, researchers will develop and refine two unique intervention approaches engaging fiction and interactive media. They will work with young adult author Alison Pollet to create a narrative that teaches students about the malleability of intelligence. The story will be presented in an interactive computer format and will include images from intelligence research, such as neurons, dendrites and MRI scans revealing increased dendrite branching following learning.

The second intervention, a role-playing computer simulation, will be created in the Internet-based virtual environment Teen Second Life. The simulation will be designed and implemented by the Educators Coop, a non-profit organization specializing in educational programming for virtual environments, led by Leslie Jarmon and Joe Sanchez of The University of Texas at Austin.

The research results will be used to develop teacher-friendly material for use with middle and early high school students from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

To learn more about McGlone's research, read the feature story: "Testing Identity: Researcher develops tools to remedy race, gender gaps in standardized test performance."

For more information, contact: Erin Geisler, KUT Radio, Moody College of Communication, (512) 475-8071; Tim Farrell, New York University, 212-998-6797.

5 Comments to "Researcher Wins $1.4 Million Grant to Help Students Improve Motivation for Academic Achievement"

1.  Brandi Montgomery said on July 16, 2009

I am a 10th-grade biology teacher in an inner city school in Houston, Texas. This information will be a welcomed asset to my school and students. Please send more information.

2.  rita rangel said on July 16, 2009

I have a 16-year-old son, and I am always looking for ways to motivate him. This program sounds right on and long overdue. I sent him to Notre Dame for a camp so I could give him an example of how the sky is not the limit on his education. If he works hard, he can achieve anything.

3.  Rena Waller said on July 18, 2009

Hi, I've been teaching for many years and always said that the two things that teachers need to be taught is motivation (all teachers) and discipline (under 18). Maybe you can use your findings to add motivation to the curriculum for education majors. I've taught high school through college and am now doing life skills for adults.

4.  Sarah Bieber said on July 19, 2009

Good morning. This research sounds fascinating. I am a ninth-grade teacher of English, reading and special education. Motivation in all of these areas is certainly one constraint. I would like to hear how the research goes and what your findings are. I am also a UT parent. My daughter will be a freshman this fall. She is really excited, as are we, to have her be part of such an excellent institution.

Sarah Bieber

5.  Evelyn Bollinger said on July 21, 2009

As an educator, I've observed that motivation is an important factor in school success for secondary students. I look forward to reading about the study and conclusions.