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A core belief of this lab is that many students have an inequitable chance at academic success due to factors beyond their level of control (e.g., poverty, stereotypes, racism).  As a response to this belief, the mission of this lab has three parts.  The first is to research and better understand how psychosocial factors (i.e., students’ thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs) are associated with improving the achievement of minority and disadvantaged youth.  The second is to use the best research available on the relationship between psychosocial factors and achievement to inform quick and effective perception-based interventions that can be implemented universally in schools to give more students at chance at academic success. The third is to study and better understand the factors associated with the identification of minority and disadvantaged students for gifted and talented programs (GATE) so that those students have a more equitable opportunity to develop their gifted abilities and live up to their academic potential.


Areas of Research

The main focus of The Hope Laboratory is Hope. Hope is one’s ability to believe in a better tomorrow, irrespective of one’s current circumstances, as well as his belief, and corresponding motivation, that he can get there.  Hope has been found to be both a powerful concept and influential predictor for children and adolescent populations, with research indicating that hope is meaningfully related to improvements in happiness, health, and academic success.  The Hope Laboratory researches the various factors that lead to increasing hope in students, better understanding how hope leads to increased academic success in students, and quick (<90 minutes) hope-based interventions that can be implemented universally in schools.


Gifted Education
An additional focus of The Hope Laboratory is gifted minority and disadvantaged students. Although the focus of a lot of scholarship, most studies indicate that minority and disadvantaged youth are vastly underrepresented in GATE programs compared to their European American and Asian counterparts, indicating that many minority and disadvantaged are not getting the opportunity to live up to academic potential.  In response, The Hope Laboratory researches how psychosocial factors relate to the likelihood of minority and disadvantaged youth being identified to GATE programs as well as what actions that can be carried out by potentially gifted students and parents that increase the likelihood of gifted minority and disadvantaged students being identified and gaining entry into GATE programs. 

Psychosocial Factors and the Achievement Gap
The final focus of The Hope Laboratory is psychosocial factors and the achievement gap.  Although the primary focus of the lab is hope, the lab also examines how many additional, related psychosocial factors can both increase the achievement of minority and disadvantaged youth and close the achievement gap.  This research sheds light on how student perception plays a role in the achievement gap and more importantly, how that perception can be altered via interventions to close the achievement gap.


“Looking towards the future with positive expectations is a powerful force on the present”

―Dr. Dante Dixson

The Hope Laboratory Updates