Postdoctoral Research Award 2020
Lisa Limeri, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, garnered extramural funding for an independent study of college students’ beliefs, or mindsets, about intelligence. Students who believe intelligence is improvable—a growth mindset—are more likely to respond to academic challenges by increasing effort or trying a different study strategy. Students who believe intelligence is an uncontrollable trait demonstrate a fixed mindset and are more likely to withdraw from academic challenges. In her study, Limeri characterized how college students’ mindsets changed during a challenging STEM course. She discovered that students who overcame academic difficulties during the semester tended to shift toward a growth mindset, while students who were unable to overcome such difficulties tended to shift toward a fixed mindset. These results contribute to mindset theory by indicating that the relationship between academic performance and mindset is not one-directional but rather reciprocal, influencing each other and creating a positive feedback cycle.