About Our Lab
The Motivation and Instruction lab's research addresses a problem that is prevalent in classrooms across the country. Students lack the motivation to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) oriented courses or careers. Their beliefs about the relations between effort and learning outcomes become barriers to their STEM learning. Many students believe that only smart people can do STEM, smart people do not need to work hard, and if you have to work hard, then you are not smart (Dweck, 2010; Hong & Lin-Siegler, 2012). Thus, when students struggle in STEM classes, they perceive this as a sign that they are not smart enough to be good in STEM and will never succeed at it.
We tackle these beliefs and attitudes by exposing high school students to scientists’ struggling stories, reminding students that even the greatest scientists experience struggle and difficulty. Previous research has shown that providing students with scientists’ struggling stories results in improved interest in science, delayed recall of science material, and science problem solving (Hong & Lin-Siegler, 2012). Our ongoing work investigates how different types of scientists’ struggling stories affect students’ beliefs about their own STEM learning ability and students' actual STEM performance.