Dr. Rob Adelman

Research Interests

As a social psychologist, my research interests lie at the intersection of cultural psychology, judgment and decision-making, and academic achievement. In particular, I examine how temporal psychological factors (e.g., connectedness to the future self) affect motivation, academic performance, well-being, and long-term goal pursuit, as well as how culture influences these processes. More recently, my interests have expanded to include social comparison, temporal self-comparison, and causal attribution. Central to my research identity, I conduct basic research in applied settings, though I have also developed brief interventions for use in academic settings.  

Projects

Improving adult education in Singapore

This is the project that brought me to NUS. The broad aim here is to improve adult education in Singapore. The first phase of this project involves establishing how/whether learning process and predictors of academic success/dropout differ for adult learners from the traditional undergraduate student population. The second phrase of this project will be to leverage those insights in order to do something about it, which could include the development of curricula, interventions, or other practical solutions. 

 

Future Self-Connectedness and Temporal Self-Comparison

This newer work examines how feeling connected to your future self predicts who you compare yourself to and how, specifically that it promotes more self-affirming types of temporal self-comparison (e.g., thinking about how you are better than you used to be), less self-deflating types of temporal self-comparison (e.g., thinking about how you used to be better), and less social comparison to others. In my dissertation, I linked these processes to emotion regulation, well-being, and academic motivation. 

Cultural differences in passion mindsets

In the past, Patricia has examined whether individuals believe that passion (for work) comes either through fit with the job or from developing it over time (fit vs. develop mindsets). In this project, we examine cultural differences in fit vs. develop mindsets in Americans and Singaporeans. I have some ideas here, too, and am currently reviewing what Patricia and Fiona have already done so that I can take the reins of this projects. 

 

Tracing causal sequences of events

This investigation proposes to examine when and why people assign blame, responsibility, or causality to agents other than (or in addition to) the one who committed the act (i.e., the proximal agent). That is, I’m interested in when individuals trace causal sequences of events, focus on distal causal agents, and even attribute the occurrence of the event to such an agent. Unlike much of the attribution literature in social psychology, I want to know the process underlying how individuals address the question "Why did that happen?" as opposed to the question "Why did this person do that?"

Opportunities

Hiring

Maybe. I have not been maintaining a group of research assistants during the pandemic, and this will depend on research plans for the upcoming academic year. 

What you can hope to learn

You will hone your statistical analysis skills, improve your ability to organize and communicate findings, and do a ton of reading. This will include developing a familiarity with my substantive areas of research as well as conducting literature searches. Basically, you’ll help me work on whatever I’m working on and must learn quickly. Applicants should already be familiar with SPSS and conducting basic literature searchers in PsychInfo. 

 

Dr. Lining (Rachel) Sun

Research Interests

Modern technological advancements and the Covid-19 pandemic created significant uncertainty for people worldwide. What can help us thrive in such an ever-changing world? My research aims to answer this question. With much curiosity, I explore the psychological factors that affect people’s reactions to uncertainty. Based on this understanding, I develop interventions that encourage people to take up the important opportunities embedded in uncertain contexts. 

Projects

Preparing students for an uncertain world 

Is the current education system preparing our students for an uncertain future? The skills to handle uncertainty are hardly taught in school. Yet, the world students will face after leaving school is anything but certain. What can we do to cultivate an appetite for uncertainty in the next generations? I investigate contextual factors (e.g., teaching styles) and personal attributes (e.g., strategic mindset and growth mindset) that may play an important role in this process.

Mindsets, lifelong learning, and job uncertainty 

The development of technology and Covid-19 pandemic threaten the existence of many jobs. These factors, however, are also creating new kinds of jobs. How can we help people respond adaptively to such job uncertainty? In this series of studies, I investigate several mindsets that can promote greater inclination to learn new skills, more positive feelings toward taking up a different job, and a higher likelihood in landing a new job. These mindsets include strategic mindset, experimental mindset, and expansive growth mindset.

Cultivating self-directed learners in Singapore (NRF project) 

I am co-leading this large-scale project with Dr. Patricia Chen and other members in the lab. The project involves more than 4,000 teenagers in Singapore and examines the motivations and self-regulation of their learning. By understanding the development trajectory of self-regulation and identifying the key components in this process, we will design scalable interventions that can improve Singapore students’ self-directedness in their learning.  

Opportunities

Hiring

Not at the moment.

What you can hope to learn

I hope you are excited about discovering the secrets of how to better deal with uncertainty. While we work together, I hope you will get involved in conceptualizing and thinking about a research question, designing and running studies, collecting, managing, and analyzing data, and learning to tell your stories based on what you find.

 

Ong Xiang Ling

Research Interests

Key research areas: Personality and resilience, self-regulated learning, socio-economic inequality

 

All of us have to deal with everyday stressors (e.g., bad grades, burnout) at some point in our lives. But why do some people handle these stressors better than others? My research looks at how various aspects of personality (traits, beliefs, goals) contribute to resilience in the face of everyday stressors. 

 

I am also interested in how we can help children develop a sense of agency, and take ownership of their learning. I conduct research on the beliefs and mindsets that help children gain a sense of control over their learning, and design interventions to promote the adoption of these beliefs and mindsets. 
 

Projects

Noncognitive factors and resilience

This work looks at how various noncognitive factors (personality traits, beliefs, goals) contribute to better outcomes in the face of academic setbacks. Which factors predict resilience? And how do they contribute to resilience?

Motivating students to take remedial action

After experiencing a bad grade, it is important to take active steps to remedy one’s performance. How can we motivate students to engage in such remedial action? This study tests whether a brief intervention can increase remedial action in students.

Perceived financial stress and resilience

Children from low-income families tend to experience more stress as a result of economic constraints. What helps children achieve better outcomes in the face of economic stress? This work aims to examine whether certain beliefs and mindsets might buffer children from the effects of perceived financial stress.

Opportunities

Hiring

Not at the moment.

What applicants will learn

A deeper interest in, and better understanding of, the relations between personality, learning, and resilience. Hopefully, you will also get to develop your skills in analysis and research writing.

Jessica Ng

Research Interests

​​I hope to develop psychologically precise interventions in higher education to help students succeed academically. I am interested in the study of mindsets and motivations that drive academic performance. 

Projects

Improving Teaching of Self-Regulated Learning in Classrooms

Self-regulation appears to be critical to students' achievement. Instead of purely putting the onus on students to be self-regulated learners, this investigation endeavors to distill critical and key drivers of the teaching of self-regulated learning - what drives self-regulated teaching in the classroom? What are the properties of teachers who promote and practice the teaching of self-regulated learning in their students? How can we develop scalable and psychologically precise interventions to promote more teaching of self-regulated behaviors in schools?

Teacher Mindset Intervention 

What makes some teachers more effective than others? A great deal of research has focused on students' mindsets and how that drive academic achievement. Many researchers have developed and tested interventions to help change students' mindsets in order to fulfill their greatest, untapped potential. However, much less research in education psychology has studied teachers' mindsets and how that can contribute to their success as effective teachers in the classroom. This series of research studies delve deep into understanding the processes of effective teaching and the mindset(s) associated with it. By changing teachers' mindset(s), we can change how teachers interpret and respond to challenges in teaching, increase their resilience as teachers, and beyond that, set in motion positive recursive cycles that improve effectiveness of teaching over time. 

Cultivating Strategic Learners

Excelling academically goes beyond just working hard to acquire content knowledge. It also involves being strategic and the ability to use appropriate metacognitive strategies - exercising self-awareness, planning, actively monitoring one’s learning approaches, reflecting on feedback and progress, and taking control of one's learning process - to help learners achieve their academic goals. Our previous work has found that a strategic mindset prompts learners to use more metacognitive strategies, which in turn, help them perform better academically in WEIRD cultural contexts (Chen, Powers, Katragadda, Cohen, & Dweck, 2020). We are extending this work to Singapore – an Asian culture which subscribes to Confucian values that emphasize effort and persistence. Beyond a different cultural context, we are testing these effects across different education levels. This line of research will help shed light on the importance of inculcating in learners - regardless of their age and cultural backgrounds - a strategic mindset to help them fulfill their potential.

Opportunities

Hiring

I am not hiring at the moment, but I welcome you to convince me to have you on board :)

What applicants will learn

  • You will do a lot of reading, a lot of discussion (with me, and others involved in the project)

  • You will be given opportunities to shape the research you are involved in. You will craft research questions with me, learn how to create and disseminate surveys on Qualtrics, or maybe even conduct lab experiments

  • I will walk you through data analyses (on SPSS and/or R) and we will do the exciting thing of discussing results together :)

  • Sometimes we get lovely results and sometimes we don’t, but when we don’t, we get a valuable opportunity to think deeper and understand the problem better, and conduct more analyses or studies – I would love for you to see this part of the research process

  • I hope to at least give my RAs an opportunity to present a poster at a reputable Psychology conference (like SPSP,  SSM, APS..).

  • I hope to make productive use of the time you give to this lab and help you achieve your goals. I look forward to meeting you and having you on board!

 
 

Yifan (Christy) Jiang

Research Interests

Christy’s research focus is in studying the role of self-regulation and motivation in predicting academic achievement and people’s well-being. Specifically, Christy is interested in investigating the relationships between people’s mindsets and emotion regulations, and the related outcome of people’s well-being. Christy has lots of experiences working with teenagers and families, and she has worked as a family-child specialist and mental health counselor, providing individual counseling and facilitating group counseling for clients with mental health issues, especially education-related depression and anxiety. 

Projects

The impacts of mindsets on well-being through coping flexibility

People who practices a strategic mindset can prompts the generation and accessing of coping strategies by asking the SM questions. Asking these questions can increase the likelihood of people using different strategies to cope with the stresses. And potentially help people stop using ineffective strategies and try alternative strategies that might works better. The SM is predicted to be positively correlated with people’s coping flexibility. Hence, people with strategic mindset will be more flexible in using different strategies to cope with the stresses according the situational demands. And this will result in better coping towards emotionally challenging situations, and people will be experiences lower levels of anxiety, depression, and distress. Thus, a strategic mindset is expected to relate to better well-being through the increase of people’s coping flexibility.

Opportunities

Hiring

Not at the moment

What applicants will learn

Besides basic quantitative research skills, you will be able to learn how to conduct qualitative studies and gain some useful skills such as interviewing the participants and analyzing the qualitative data.

 

Teo Qiao Kang

Research Interests

I hope that my work would be able to make an impact in the lives of learners by advancing knowledge on effective learning practices and psychological well-being, and by refining and scaling up interventions.

Projects

National Research Foundation

This project focuses on understanding and improving Primary and Secondary School students’ self-regulation of their learning, with the goal of making them more effective, self-directed learners. Large-scale surveys are currently being conducted to assess learners’ motivation and self-regulation across the academic year, as well as to identify key areas that students are having difficulties in. These will in turn drive future work that centers on designing and testing learning interventions to inculcate self-directedness among our young learners.

Teacher Mindset

This series of research studies examine the underlying adaptive mindsets that contribute to the effectiveness of teachers in the classroom. Besides the knowledge and skills of teaching, the adoption of certain mindsets (e.g., strategic mindset in teaching, growth mindset of teaching) may also have a role to play in influencing teachers’ pedagogical practices. As such, we are examining how these adaptive mindsets relates to the extent to which teachers regulate their own teaching, as well as the extent to which teachers encourage self-regulated learning among their students in the classroom.

Opportunities

Hiring

At the moment, I'm currently not hiring any Research Assistants.

What applicants will learn

Applicants can to look to accrue useful research skills through active involvement at various stages of the research process: from conceptualizing a research topic, writing the IRB application, recruitment of participants, piloting, running the actual study, troubleshooting to analyses, interpretation and presentation of findings.​

Strategic Mindset of Emotion Regulation

A relatively new area of research I’m pursuing involves understanding the implications of a strategic mindset for emotion regulation on coping and emotion regulation. A strategic mindset for emotion regulation is a mindset that involves asking oneself strategy-eliciting questions in the face of challenges or insufficient progress in coping and emotion regulation circumstances. Studies are currently being designed and conducted to better understand how this novel, adaptive mindset relates to important coping and emotion regulatory processes (e.g., coping flexibility, use of effective coping strategies) and outcomes (e.g., life satisfaction, distress, depression, and anxiety).