Eddie Brummelman’s work sits at the intersection of psychology and educational science. He studies the developing self: children’s growing understanding of themselves as individuals in a sociocultural context. Using experimental, observational, and longitudinal methods, he asks three interrelated questions. How do children develop self-views? How do these self-views shape their mental health and educational performance? And how can interventions target self-views to help at-risk children flourish? He is committed to using his research to inform important social problems, such as growing inequality in education.
My plans for the fellowship period
During my fellowship, I will use my expertise in self-view development to study the pressing problem of inequality. Society faces large and persistent levels of educational inequality. Around the world, children from poor and working-class backgrounds are far more likely to underperform in school than children from middle-class or affluent backgrounds. With my project, I will identify a core mechanism—the self—that may perpetuate such inequalities.
Using various methods, I will study the developmental roots of children’s self-views and explore their role in producing inequality. (1) At what age do social class disparities in self-views emerge, and what is their origin (e.g., socialization by parents and teachers)? (2) How can self-views produce social class disparities in learning and performance (e.g., via motivational disengagement)? (3) How can interventions leverage self-views to improve outcomes of children from poor and working-class backgrounds? In addressing these questions, I will aim to bridge disciplines (e.g., psychology, sociology, economics, and educational science).
How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
The project will inform practices, programs, and policies on reducing inequalities in learning and achievement. With an eye for the structural barriers faced by children from disadvantaged backgrounds, I will target a malleable psychological mechanism—the self—that can help reduce inequalities. One of my goals is to design, evaluate, and disseminate an intervention that is tailored to disadvantaged children’s needs and helps reduce inequalities at scale. In addition, I will work with journalists to find fast and effective ways to share scientific findings on inequality with stakeholders. Thus, my project aligns with two Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all (SDG4) and reducing inequality (SDG10).