Research Interests

A central question that guides my research is how students’ social interactions at school influence their motivation and learning. Over the past several years I led a longitudinal study examining US high school students’ peer social networks and their academic and social motivation. My dissertation examined the associations and predictive influence among students’ academic and social goals, peer social network connections, and academic achievement, then my postdoctoral research expanded this through an examination of how first-year college students’ patterns of social interactions with others influence their academic successMy future plans include continued exploration of the development of students’ academic and social motivation, social network relationships within educational settings, social aspects of learning such as academic help seeking and collaborative group work, and the role of educational technology in these cognitive and developmental processes.

@kara_makara

Academic Help Seeking

Who do individuals go to when they need academic help? How do they decide whom to ask for help? What is the role of academic and social motivation in the likelihood of seeking help? Together with Stuart Karabenick, we have explored these questions among secondary students, undergraduate university students, and secondary teachers…

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Curricular and Extra-Curricular Social Networks

In 2013-2014 I collaborated with Barry Fishman, Stephanie Teasley, and Stuart Karabenick on my postdoctoral research project funded through the University of Michigan MCubed interdisciplinary initiative. The project is titled “An examination of curricular and extra-curricular social networks and their relationship to student engagement and learning.”  

High School Social Networks and Motivation

In the Motivation Research Lab, led by Stuart A. Karabenick, I focused on adolescent students’ achievement motivation. My dissertation examined how high school students’ peer social networks at school influence and are influenced by their academic and social motivation. I’m continuing to analyze this data, with a focus on students’ centrality within their school social network.


USE Lab, Digital Media Commons

In the USE lab, led by Stephanie Teasley, I analyzed student and instructor perceptions of how use of learning management systems impact students’ self-regulated learning. As part of this lab, I also conducted research with Hye-Jung Lee comparing approaches to learning between US and South Korean university students.

Adolescent Transitions Lab

With this research group, led by Allison Ryan, I have been assisting on studies related to understanding students’ transition from elementary to middle school, specifically how that transition impacts students’ relational self-worth, engagement, and peer relations.