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IES Grant

Title: Improving Students' Mathematics Experiences: How Does Success Impact Students' Memories, Motivation, and Engagement?
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Finn, Bridgid Awardee: Educational Testing Service (ETS)
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2019 - 06/30/2023) Award Amount: $1,393,717
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A190024

Co-Principal Investigator: Wigfield, Allan; Miele, David

Purpose: This research explores how students remember and evaluate challenging math experiences that include extra opportunities for success, and how memories of those experiences relate to students' achievement motivation, performance, future choices, task effort, and persistence. The research team will also identify factors that influence students' experiences of academic success. Success can enhance motivation, while failure can undermine students' motivation to engage in similar experiences.

Project Activities: The research team will conduct six experiments with students in third, sixth, and ninth grade to explore the effects of extra opportunities for success within challenging math experiences, and to identify the optimal ways of experiencing success in this context. The first five experiments are designed to take place in a single session. In the final experiment, students participate in five sessions over four months to investigate the effects of remembered success over time.

Products: Researchers will identify factors of the math experience that lead students to remember being successful, and they will also provide evidence of relationships between extra opportunities for success and education outcomes. They will also produce peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating schools are in diverse urban or suburban districts in New Jersey.

Sample: Each year, approximately 2100 third, sixth, and ninth grade students from 3 school districts (about 700 per grade) will participate in the research.

Malleable Factors: This project identifies factors that lead a student to remember a math experience as successful.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will conduct six experiments over four years. In each experiment, students will complete lists of math problems followed by a set of ratings and surveys about their experiences. The lists are designed to provide extra opportunities for success or not, and in some studies, lists vary by length or number of easy versus difficult problems, depending on the research question. The team will use both within-subjects and between-subjects studies. In the within-subjects studies, students will complete multiple lists that vary along the dimension being studied. In the between-subjects studies, students will be randomly assigned to complete one type of list only. The first five experiments take place in a single session. In the final experiment, students participate in five sessions over approximately four months to investigate remembered success over a longer period.

Control Condition: The control condition involves completing a set of difficult math problems without added opportunities for success.

Key Measures: Key measures include researcher-developed math tests, expectancy-value ratings, and surveys of students' task preferences, future task choices, and problem-solving time.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use generalized linear mixed models and will account for the nesting of students in participating classrooms.