Research Spotlight

Jeff Greene investigates how to help students learn

Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene


Jeff Greene, assistant professor of educational psychology, is investigating how to help students learn about science through the use of computers. Past research has shown that computers are helpful only when students understand how to self-regulate their learning: how to make a plan, choose appropriate strategies to enact and monitor the progress of their learning.

Greene and the students in his Cognition and Learning Laboratory are examining how certain student beliefs, such as those about intelligence and ability, influence the quality of students’ self-regulation, and their subsequent learning while using a computer. They audio- and video-taped college students as the students self-regulated to learn about the circulatory system using a computer.

The researchers found that while prior knowledge does play a role in determining how successful students are in their learning, their self-beliefs and ability to self-regulate also play a major role. In general, students’ beliefs ranged from seeing intelligence as something unchangeable that you are “born” with─a detrimental idea─to seeing intelligence as something you can improve through hard work─a much more adaptive idea.

Students who engaged in more self-regulation were able to overcome their detrimental beliefs and capitalize upon their adaptive ones.

These findings suggest that one way to help students become better science learners is by helping them learn to self-regulate and adopt more adaptive self-beliefs, such as the idea that intelligence is not fixed but can be grown and fostered through effort and persistence.