Motivation in education (especially in STEM), Adolescent development, Person-centered approaches to studying change
Dimond Best Dissertation Award, School of Education, University of Michigan (2008)
Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan (2004-2005)
Regents’ Fellowship, University of Michigan (2000-2003)
High Honors, University of California, Berkeley (2000)
Dr. Conley is an educational psychologist who studies how students are motivated to learn. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and a graduate student in the Combined Program in Education & Psychology at the University of Michigan, she has investigated how the will to learn develops during adolescence, and how this motivation influences how much students learn and achieve. She earned her Ph.D. in developmental and educational psychology in 2007 and joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Education. Her dissertation was awarded the Dimond Outstanding Dissertation Award by the University of Michigan.
In Fall 2009, Conley was awarded two new grants from the National Science Foundation examining motivation in math and science learning. The first (NSF# DUE- 0928103) looked at the role of teachers’ motivation in promoting students’ motivation and achievement. This recently completed $1.9 million grant assessed teachers’ motivation to learn in professional development contexts and the influence of teachers’ motivation on student achievement in math and science. The second grant (NSF# DUE-0929076) also studied the influence of teachers on student achievement in an effort to take to scale a successful instructional intervention that gave teachers in-class support for changing their practice. Conley directed the research and evaluation component of the $2 million project, which involved randomly assigning schools to intervention and control groups and tracking teacher and student learning and motivation across three project years.
Dr. Conley's entry point into important issues in education is motivational processes. Teenagers drop out of high school or graduate without mastering basic skills; girls continue to be underrepresented in careers in math and science; talented students burn out or fail to apply themselves, with test scores and academic records not indicative of their potential. At the heart of these disparate problems in education today, however, lies a common solution—motivation.
Motivation affects learners of all ages, in all areas of education, in schools, at home, and in the workplace. Barring extreme learning disability or serious lack of resources, students who are motivated to learn will learn. As a solution motivation can be cost effective, depending not on investment in technology or resources, but on the modification of learning climates to facilitate its development. Further, educators need not figure out how to create motivation; it is present in most children from birth, evident in their earliest explorations of the world. Motivation need only be fostered, or at the very least not constrained.
Just as motivation can be a panacea, failure to attend to motivation can thwart the most promising educational reforms. The best curricula and the most useful technologies will be wasted in the absence of motivation to use them. Recent reforms, with their focus on accountability through high-stakes testing, have largely ignored the role of motivation, or are based on assumptions about motivation that are at odds with what motivation research demonstrates. Dr. Conley's research aims to understand motivational processes in today’s schools by asking how students’ motivation to learn develops and how this development can be supported by teachers, classrooms, and schools. She studies learners who are ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse and investigate students in context using a range of quantitative approaches, including Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM), Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), and person-centered approaches like cluster analysis and latent class analysis.
*Lam, A. C., *Schenke, K. S., *Ruzek, E. R., Conley, A. M., & Karabenick, S. A. (2015). Student perceptions of classroom achievement goal structure: Is it appropriate to aggregate? Journal of Educational Psychology.
*Simzar, R. M., *Martinez, M., *Rutherford, T., Domina, T. A., Conley, A. M. (2015). Raising the stakes: How students’ motivation for mathematics associates with high-and low-stakes test achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 39, 49–63.
Penner, A. M., Domina, T. A., *Penner, E. K., Conley, A. M. (2015). Curricular policy as a collective effects problem: A distributional approach. Social Science Research, 52, 627–641.
*Ruzek, E., Domina, T. A., Conley, A. M., Duncan, G. J., Karabenick, S. A. (2014). Using value-added models to measure teacher effects on students’ motivation and achievement. The Journal of Early Adolescence.
Domina, T. A., Penner, A. M., *Penner, E., Conley, A. M. (2014). Algebra for All: California’s eighth-grade algebra initiative as constrained curricula. Teachers College Record, 116(8) 1-32.
Conley, A. M. (2012). Patterns of motivation beliefs: Combining achievement goal and expectancy-value perspectives. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(1), 32-47.
*Keys, T. D., Conley, A. M., Domina, T. D., and Duncan, G. J. (2012). Effects of goal orientations on adolescent mathematics achievement gains. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37, 47-54.
Domina, T. D., Conley, A. M., Farkas, G. (2011). The link between educational expectations and effort in the college-for-all-era. Sociology of Education 84 (2), 93-112.
Domina, T. D., Conley, A. M., Farkas, G. (2011). The case for dreaming big. Sociology of Education 84 (2), 118-121.
Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Durik, A. M., Conley, A. M., Barron, K. E., Tauer, J. M., Karabenick, S. A., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2010). Situational Interest Survey (SIS): An instrument to assess the role of situational factors in interest development. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 70(4), 647-671.
Conley, A. M., & Pintrich, P. R. (2004). Changes in epistemological beliefs in elementary science students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29 (2), 186-204.
Pintrich, P. R., Conley, A. M., & Kempler, T. K. (2003). Current issues in achievement goal theory and research. International Journal of Educational Research, 39 (4-5), 319-337.
Paris, S. G., & (Conley) McEvoy, A. (2000). Harmful and enduring effects of high-stakes testing. Journal of Issues in Education, 6 (1,2), 145-159.
National Science Foundation ($1,499,989)
Hispanics and the STEM Pipeline: Foundations of Persistence from Middle School to Careers (HRD1535273)
This project examines STEM-related educational and occupational pathways of Hispanic youth by identifying perceived obstacles, buffers, and opportunities related to postsecondary STEM attainment, and assessing the links between student experiences in math classrooms, short-term outcomes (motivational beliefs, college and career aspirations), and long-term outcomes (college and occupational choices).
American Education Research Association (AERA)
American Psychological Association