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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Eric Kuo
  • (978) 793-1963
Award Date:07/28/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 76,367
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 76,367
  • FY 2021=$76,367
Start Date:10/01/2021
End Date:09/30/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.076
Primary Program Source:040106 NSF Education & Human Resource
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Mindfulness Training to Mitigate Psychological Threat and Enhance Engagement and Learning in Undergraduate Introductory Physics
Federal Award ID Number:2100081
DUNS ID:041544081
Parent DUNS ID:041544081
Program:ECR-EHR Core Research
Program Officer:
  • Dawn Rickey
  • (703) 292-4674

Awardee Location

Street:1901 South First Street
Awardee Cong. District:13

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Street:506 S Wright St
Cong. District:13

Abstract at Time of Award

This project aims to serve the national interest by developing and testing a novel theoretical framework to understand and mitigate sources of disengagement and promote sources of engagement in undergraduate introductory physics courses. A premise of this project is that students under psychological threat—those who appraise demands of physics as exceeding coping resources—are more likely to disengage from physics. Critically, reducing psychological threat is suggested to boost engagement, and ultimately, learning and retention. The focus is on mindfulness as a tool to help students reappraise physics stressors, so that demands posed by learning physics can be perceived as temporary challenges to be overcome rather than permanent threats to be avoided. This project tests a model of psychological threat in relation to physics engagement and learning that integrates three separate research literatures on: 1) motivation (social and educational psychology), 2) mindfulness and stress (health and clinical science), and 3) learning (cognitive psychology and disciplinary-based physics education). In a series of randomized field experiments with undergraduates, this project tests the hypothesis that mindfulness training can help students make more adaptive stress appraisals, thereby mitigating psychological threat and boosting engagement. This project also explores whether adaptive stress appraisals and increased engagement cumulate to longer-term gains in learning and retention outcomes. Through the use of multimethod assessments (ecological momentary assessment, performance measures, self-report surveys, interviews, objective course records), the proposed studies will provide critical data necessary to rigorously test mechanisms connecting mindfulness to stress appraisals, engagement, and physics learning more broadly. Findings from this research will provide valuable insights into the relations between mindfulness, psychological threat, and engagement and learning. This project is supported by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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