Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow

Julia Moeller

Leipzig University

Research Focus
Julia Moeller is a psychologist and motivation researcher. She studies motivation and emotion in learning and workplaces. In particular, she studies “mixed feelings” in terms of intra-individual co-occurrences of positive/intrinsic and negative/extrinsic/aversive aspects of emotions and motivation.
To capture and disentangle the state and trait components of motivation, she uses situation-specific assessments (experience sampling method) and long-term longitudinal data in many of her studies. To study “mixed feelings”, she applies and further develops intra-individual and person-oriented methods, which often shift assumptions about motivation by revealing mixed feelings that otherwise remain hidden in the common inter-individual approaches.

My plans for the fellowship period
I aim to develop individualized interventions for the training of social-emotional learning skills and learning motivation, and to integrate them into existing personalized learning curricula and platforms. In these aims, my research is comparable to the recent trends to adapt medical treatment and mental health programs to the individual needs of the recipients. The objectives are twofold: First, I will provide students with individualized interventions that help them regulate their emotions and that teach students to use emotions optimally in learning processes at school. Second, I aim to provide teachers with easy-to-use technology allowing them to monitor the current emotional and motivational states of their class, so that educators can adapt their teaching strategies to the current academic emotions and motivations of their students. To disseminate these forms of individualized support, I aim to incorporate them into existing programs for personalized teaching and learning.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
I aim to help students feel supported in their individual cognitive and emotional learning needs. In a typical classroom, there will be a few students who struggle to learn at the same pace as other students, and a few students who do not feel challenged enough and may consequently get bored. Even with the tracking of students into academic and vocational tracks, practiced in countries such as Germany or Finland, classrooms remain diverse and teachers struggle to provide the optimal task and pace to every single individual student at every given moment. My research aspires to help solving these challenges.
My first goal is to enable teachers to monitor the momentary emotions of their students in real-time, so that they can adapt their teaching strategies and make sure no child is left behind or unchallenged. Additionally, students receive brief interventions individually in exact those moments in which they struggle motivationally. My second goal is to help advancing individualized learning approaches, meaning digital curricula providing every student with individually selected tasks that match the students’ individual stage of knowledge and learning pace. My research aspires to help making such digitalized individual support even more motivating and emotionally appealing and supportive.