For A New Research Program, Educational Psychology Faculty and Students Collaborate

Left to right: Maria Janelli, Dr. Ana Lipnevich, Dana Murano, and Dr. Kalina Gjicali

Associate Professor of Educational Psychology Anastasiya Lipnevich has focused her research on two interacting areas of interest – (1) instructional feedback (Handbook of Instructional Feedback) and (2) assessment of noncognitive, or psychosocial, characteristics that relate to educational and life success (Psychosocial SKills and School Systems in the 21st). Anastasiya Lipnevich and her PhD students, Kalina Gjicali, Maria Janelli, and Dana Murano have an extensive research program underway that spans both sub-fields of inquiry and brings them together. The team works with researchers from Spain, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia on a variety of projects that examine issues related to classroom assessment and feedback, innovative approaches to assessment of noncognitive skills, and development of interventions geared toward enhancement of psychosocial skills via feedback.

Kalina Gjicali, Ph.D., has recently completed her doctoral degree in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Learning, Development, and Instruction and also serves as the University’s Quantitative Reasoning Fellow. Her research focuses on the impact of cognitive (e.g., language comprehension) and social-cognitive constructs (e.g., attitude, perceived social norms, self-efficacy) on mathematics learning for ethnically diverse students. For her dissertation, Kalina examined noncognitive predictors of mathematics performance using the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 United States dataset and developed a measure of high school student’s attitudes towards mathematics through a Situational Judgement Test (SJT), a more novel approach towards noncognitive educational measurement. Some of the most important findings of this work? Students’ attitudes matter for their academic performance much more than what has been historically reported. More nuanced analyses showed that there is evidence for the attitude-achievement paradox -- even though racial and ethnic minority students’ attitudes towards mathematics are positive, their mathematics achievement still lags behind the national average. Overall implications of these research studies include: (1) an emphasis and assessment of noncognitive factors on achievement; (2) the importance of control beliefs and self-efficacy beliefs on predicting mathematics work ethic (e.g., paying attention in class, completing homework, studying for math exams) and subsequent mathematics performance; (3) that applied interventions, such as embedding applied occupational examples in instruction by delivering career-relevant instruction, may be utilized to promote students’ attitudes, which may have positive indirect effects on their mathematics achievement; and (4) adapting classroom sociomathematical norms to alleviate social pressures and provide instructional support, especially for minority adolescents who are at risk for having low-self efficacy beliefs for mathematics at onset, and particularly for Black/African-American males and Hispanic females. Dr. Lipnevich and Dr. Gjicali are not planning on stopping on investigating the attitude-achievement relation within the US. The PISA international effort contains student data on 60+ more countries! A pancultural research study will be underway! Kalina Gjicali and Anastasiya Lipnevich also work on a series of studies that examine various aspects of instructional feedback.

Maria Janelli, has recently completed her degree in educational psychology after conducting her dissertation research in a Coursera MOOC offered by the American Museum of Natural History. Using a multivariate design with random assignment, Maria examined the effects of pre-tests and feedback on learning and persistence in a MOOC. This first-of-its-kind study highlighted the complexities of providing instruction to a diverse group of international adult students. The findings of the experiment are as interesting as they were unexpected. Instructional techniques and strategies that work for traditional students work differently for MOOC students. This research confirms what many practitioners know intuitively: there is no typical MOOC student. Adults enroll in MOOCs for a variety of reasons, and their varied intentions affect engagement with the course material. This presents a unique instructional design challenge/opportunity for both researchers and educators alike. Dr. Lipnevich and Dr. Janelli will continue to study this population to better understand how to support adult students in self-guided online courses.

Dana is completing her Ph.D. in Learning, Development, and Instruction, and also working as a Research Scientist in ACT’s Center for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning. Her dissertation focuses on the social and emotional learning (SEL) in elementary and early childhood, and highlights recent progress, as well as future directions, for both intervention  and measurement with both populations. Like Kalina, Dana also has worked extensively on the development of innovative item types, such as situational judgment tests. Though her research centers upon the development and measurement of social and emotional skills, feedback is a key factor to consider in this domain as well. A recent publication Dana wrote with colleagues from ACT for the Handbook of Instructional Feedback aims to transfer what we have learned about effective feedback in other domains to what effective feedback can and should look like in the development of social and emotional skills. Whereas there are certainly differences, there are also some common denominators across the board, and many of these principles ground development work of feedback material for students and parents. Future projects on Dana’s and Anastasiya’s radar include additional meta-analytic methodological research, particularly as it applies to the SEL domain, additional development work on assessing social and emotional skills in elementary-aged students, and empirical studies of feedback on social and emotional skills.

Stay tuned for articles and presentations!

Submitted on: MAY 30, 2019

Category: Educational Psychology