Past Research Projects

Promoting excellence in secondary science education: Teacher-student interactions as a pathway to improve student performance


  • Dr. Irene Skuballa, New York University Abu Dhabi
  • Professor Lydia Barza, Zayed University Abu Dhabi
  • Professor Fiona Baker, Emirates College for Advanced Education Abu Dhabi

Funded By:

  • Abu Dhabi Education Council ADEC Award for Research Excellence A2RE

Project Summary

The project aims to investigate teachers’ cognitive and metacognitive processes throughout the process of science education in secondary schools in Abu Dhabi to ascertain in how far these processes are moderated or mediated by classroom heterogeneity and level of teachers’ expertise. Building on these findings we aim to conceptualize and pilot a training tailored to teachers’ and students’ needs to foster instructional quality in science education.


Individual Differences in Children’s Self-Regulation in Response to Classroom Activities and Interactions

Collaborator: Professor Lydia Barza, Zayed University Abu Dhabi

The goal of the study was to:

  • describe the quality of teacher-child interactions, as assessed by the CLASS Pre-K, in public and private early childhood education programs in the United Arab Emirates,
  • explore within-morning variability in the quality of teachers’ interactions with children, and
  • investigated relations between the three domains of teacher-child interactions and children’s behavioral and physiological functioning.

We selected children’s behavioral self-regulation and stress physiology because of their importance for children’s school readiness. Participants were 26 kindergarten teachers and, on average, five children per classroom (in total 115 five-years-old children).

School-aged Children’s Learning- and Health-related Behavior: Social, Motivational, and Societal Influences

The goal of the study was to:

  • describe variation of learning- and health-related behaviors of school-aged children,
  • investigate associations between learning- and health-related behaviors and students’ reported school connectedness, and
  • examine the effects on students’ educational aspirations.

Data was collected from over 1,700 10-18-years old students from private and public schools in Abu Dhabi. Students completed a survey to assess their self-reported learning- and health-related behaviors.

Mindset Effects on Academic Achievement Motivation

Collaborators: Professor Lydia Barza, Zayed University Abu Dhabi; Professor Anja Achtziger, Zeppelin University, Germany

The objective of the study was to examine the relationship between different states of mind (mindsets) and academic achievement motivation.

The project aimed to test the effects of the deliberative and implemental mindset on goal commitment and goal attainment among college students. In addition to a sample of international students at NYUAD, data was also collected at Zayed University Abu Dhabi. The gender-segregated educational background at Zayed University Abu Dhabi provided a valuable angle since separate educational settings can change learning attitudes as well as behavior.

With these two data sets, we will be able to compare the results of two different systems and to explore if mindset effects have the same impact. Since mindset effects are supposed to be universal, this experiment may provide much-needed data on cultural applicability of the mindset theory.

Selected Publications

  • Suchodoletz, A. v., Rahn, J., Nadyukova, I., Barza, L., & Achtziger, A. (2019). Can mindsets influence college students’ motivation to learn? Findings from the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Higher Education, 79(4), 731-748.