Motivate Lab Postdoctoral Research Associate

University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
Closing date
Oct 21, 2021

Job Details

Job location: Charlottesville, VA

Employment Type: Full-time
Posted data: 2021-07-14
Req: R0026443

The Motivate Lab is looking for a Postdoctoral Research Associate (postdoc) who can begin August 2021. The postdoc will work closely with Chris Hulleman (University of Virginia), Jim Stigler (UCLA), and Karen Givvin (UCLA) to develop, implement, and test the effectiveness of a series of learning mindset interventions embedded in an online statistics course. The position is a part of the Better Book Project, funded by the California Learning Lab. This project will develop, implement, and continuously improve an online interactive textbook for introductory statistics. The project’s innovative design - based on learning science theories of how people develop deep understanding in complex domains - involves repeatedly engaging students with the deep conceptual structure of the domain (in this case, statistical modeling), and includes a heavy emphasis on simulation, randomization, and bootstrapping as tools for both doing data analysis and understanding statistical ideas. The goal is not simply to increase students’ course completion, but the development of flexible and transferable knowledge - i.e., deep understanding - in all students. The postdoc will join the motivation and engagement team led by Chris Hulleman (Motivate Lab) and Karen Givvin (UCLA), and work with the two other research and design teams (statistics curriculum and math prerequisites).

Key Responsibilities

The Postdoc will be responsible for...

  • Survey and intervention design

    • Design and implement surveys and pulse checks assessing student and instructor mindset and motivation

    • Design, develop, and implement data-informed learning mindset and utility-value interventions to be tested by participating instructors

  • Data analysis and management

    • Clean and transform raw data in preparation for analysis

    • Data analysis through code primarily using Mplus (preferred) and SPSS

    • Preliminary data analysis for longitudinal analysis (e.g., measurement invariance)

    • Analysis of descriptive and correlational statistics by group

    • Analysis of validity and reliability of quantitative measurement scales

    • Higher-level analytical techniques (e.g., latent change analysis, multiple-group structural equation modeling)

    • Create and manage longitudinal datasets

    • Build datasets by merging from various data sources, tables, files, etc.

  • Communication of Data

    • Provide recommendations to instructors and curriculum designers based on research findings

    • Present research findings to higher education administrators, faculty members, other researchers, and potential funders

    • Present research findings at conferences and professional meetings

    • Contribute to dissemination efforts through academic writing, grant writing, professional development materials, and promotional materials

As projects grow and develop at Motivate Lab, new and unforeseen responsibilities will likely appear. The ideal candidate will exhibit adaptability and flexibility with the changing responsibilities.

Qualifications and Skills/Experiences

The ideal candidate will have a background in postsecondary work, non-profit, and/or education sectors. This person will have a passion for shaping how schools serve students and for creating equitable spaces for students from historically marginalized and minoritized populations.

  • Minimum qualification: Ph.D. from an accredited university in psychology; educational psychology; statistics, evaluation, and research methods; econometrics; education or a related social sciences field

  • Strong working knowledge of motivation research

  • Advanced quantitative data analysis and management skills, with proficiency in MPlus

  • Experience with social psychology or motivational interventions design and implementation

  • Demonstrated experience preparing conference presentations, research findings, and manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals

  • Strong organizational skills, including attention to detail and balancing multiple priorities

  • Strong interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills

  • Ability to interact effectively with a diverse team of internal and external stakeholders

  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team

  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and demonstrate good judgment

We know there are great candidates who might not check all of these boxes or who possess important skills we haven’t thought of. If that’s you, don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself.

Commitment to Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Motivate Lab is committed to:

  • Recruiting talented and diverse staff.

  • Recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce, and providing an inclusive and supportive environment in which staff and faculty are recognized as integral to the success of our work.

  • Promoting a culture of integrity, mutual respect, excellence, collaboration and innovation.

How to Apply

Complete an online application through UVA’s application portal and attach a CV/resume and answers to the following questions in lieu of a cover letter:

1. What about Motivate Lab, and the Postdoctoral Research Associate role in particular, is most intriguing to you?

2. What skills and experiences make you a uniquely qualified candidate for this role?

3. How you intend to bring a focus on practices that promote justice, equity, and inclusion to this role?

Each response should be no more than 300 words.

All completed applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

About Motivate Lab

The mission of the Motivate Lab is to improve people's lives through rigorous motivation research. Led by two professors at the University of Virginia, Motivate Lab's annual operating budget of over $2.2M is completely supported through external grants and contracts. Our current five-year strategic plan has ambitious goals of growing the size, scope, and impact of our work in education and beyond, including sports and workforce settings. The majority of work in our organization focuses on research and development activities that develop tools to infuse learning-mindset supportive practices into educational and policy contexts, with a particular focus on supporting students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in higher education. We utilize our rigorous methods to design translational activities, including professional development, training, and dissemination, for both researchers and practitioners. We aim to change both the fields of practice and research through our innovative and agile methods of developing evidence-based practices.

Target start date: August 2021

Note: this is a restricted position and continuation beyond a year is dependent upon the availability of funding and satisfactory performance.


Competitive salary is commensurate with individual’s experience and skills. All full-time employees receive a comprehensive benefits package.

The University of Virginia, including the UVA Health System which represents the UVA Medical Center, Schools of Medicine and Nursing, UVA Physician’s Group and the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, are fundamentally committed to the diversity of our faculty and staff. We believe diversity is excellence expressing itself through every person's perspectives and lived experiences. We are equal opportunity and affirmative action employers. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family medical or genetic information.


In 1819, the University of Virginia established a new model for intellectual exchange and cross-disciplinary collaboration in higher education. Two hundred years later, as a major research institution, we continue to challenge conventions, lead with ingenuity and advance knowledge for the common good.

What began as an innovative idea has become one of the nation’s leading public research universities, with over 21,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UVA also has over 3,000 full-time faculty offering more than 400 degrees.

Each of the University’s eleven schools has its own distinctive mission, working together to garner consistently high rankings—including #2 Best Value Public College (Princeton Review, 2016), #3 Public University in the Nation (U.S. News & World Report, 2016), and #3 Best Value Among Public Colleges (Kiplinger’s, 2016).  

As we invest in and strengthen our research capabilities, UVA seeks new faculty ready to uncover new insights, rewrite old rules and collaborate on intellectual discoveries.


As an R1 institution, the University’s research centers, consortia and laboratories are on the leading edge of discovery and technology, offering collaborative spaces for students and faculty to solve global problems.

Our professors are recognized members of major national scholarly and professional organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Our faculty’s engagement in interdisciplinary research is being facilitated by new research institutes specializing in everything from big data to brain functioning, and by cluster hires across schools.


UVA is also home to a nationally renowned academic medical center and the UVA Health System, which serves a three-part mission to treat patients, conduct translational research and train medical practitioners in a wide variety of disciplines.

Established as the nation’s 10th medical school in 1825, the institution has since grown to include a 612-bed hospital and a Level I trauma center, nationally recognized cancer and heart centers, a Children’s Hospital, and primary and specialty clinics throughout Central Virginia.

The UVA Medical Center is consistently ranked among the nation’s best hospitals by the U.S. News & World Report magazine and has been named among the top 25 percent in seven specialties.


The vast majority of UVA students come from the top 10% of their high school class, as well as from all 50 states, over 142 countries and a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Despite their diversity, all UVA students share a love of learning and a drive to achieve.

One of the reasons students choose Virginia is our unique residential culture. At UVA, the community of students, faculty and staff personifies the Jeffersonian idea that living and learning are connected. The Academical Village was constructed to support a unique residential experience, with faculty living in the Pavilions, students occupying Lawn rooms and the world-famous Rotunda at its heart. The University’s residential culture continues to support this experience today—strengthened by students, faculty and staff rich in backgrounds, ideas and perspectives. Our unique culture is also paying dividends in innovation:  UVA’s faculty have generated more than 130 patents since 2010.

Perhaps most importantly, faculty come to UVA knowing that instruction is as important as research, and they pride themselves on their many teaching awards.  Our best professors look for ways to encourage, mentor and develop tomorrow’s leaders inside and outside the classroom.


Living in Charlottesville you’ll find sophisticated restaurants, world-renowned wineries and breweries, cosmopolitan arts and music, friendly urban and suburban neighborhoods and a Piedmont landscape that has lured adventurous souls for centuries.  No wonder the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research named Charlottesville the “happiest city in America” in 2014.

In addition to UVA and its health system, several major employers have facilities in Charlottesville, including State Farm, Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Department of Defense, GE and others.  Charlottesville is also becoming a center for innovative start-up businesses.  The University also actively helps spouses and partners of faculty members build their networks and pursue employment opportunities with a wide variety of area employers. 

The University of Virginia is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, qualified individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination and may be entitled to reasonable accommodations to assist in their pursuit of employment at the University. This includes assistance in completing the online job application as well as reasonable accommodations during the interview process. Please contact the UHR Service Center: 434.982.0123 to request assistance.

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