Paul Hanselman, sociology assistant professor, has been named a 2018 National Academy of Education Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. The honor, which includes $70,000 in grant funding and is awarded this year to only 30 recipients, supports Hanselman’s research on conditions that support growth mindset in school-aged students.

“Recent research highlights the benefits of a growth mindset, the belief that intelligence is malleable, which supports resilient responses to academic challenges,” says Hanselman. “Brief interventions promoting this mindset show positive impacts for low-achieving students.” His work aims to understand in what kinds of schools and classes students’ mindsets matter and how these conditions can be maximized to reduce educational inequalities. He’ll draw from a large-scale administrative data set that tracks students’ courses, academic progress, and mindsets among middle and high school students in five large California school districts, and a new experimental test of mindset intervention among 9th grade students around the country.

Taken together, the data will help explain factors that support a growth mindset and in the process, academic success. 

The study builds on Hanselman’s previous research on social psychological interventions that change how students think about themselves and their social environment. He and his colleagues have found a growth mindset may be beneficial for adolescents who are struggling during the transition to high school, and he’s continuing to explore how these individual impacts differ in different types of schools.

Hanselman received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he was previously a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine and the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He joined UCI in fall 2017 as part of a high impact hire group designed to bring together faculty from across the university to work on education interventions for disadvantaged children.


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