I am an Assistant Professor in the Education Policy Studies Department at The Pennsylvania State University (beginning August 2018). I recently received my Ph.D. from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington. I have a Masters in Economics and have completed a doctoral minor from the IU Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. Broadly, I am interested in bringing psychological insights to bear on applied social and educational policy issues. My research has been funded by the Russell Sage Foundation and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.
In my dissertation, I examine the causes and consequences of racial (and socioeconomic) disparities in students' non-cognitive educational outcomes across the Pre-k-16 educational spectrum in the US using quasi-experimental and field experimental methods. Specifically, my dissertation consists of three studies, each exploring a different facet of inequality in non-cognitive outcomes at three different stages in education—pre-kindergarten, K-12, and college.
The overarching goal of my research is to engage in interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research within the domains of social and educational policy. My research focuses on using psychological insights to explore disparities in students’ non-cognitive educational outcomes—outcomes defined more broadly than achievement measures such as GPA, test scores, IQ, or other such cognitive dimensions. In my current research, I employ panel data, quasi-experimental, and field-experimental techniques to examine disparities in students’ non-cognitive outcomes. My future work will focus on extending this research to understand how the mediating factors that drive those disparities can be addressed using policy levers and interventions.
Work in Progress (Selected)
Gopalan, M. (Under Review) Understanding the Linkages Between Racial Disciplinary Gaps and Racial Achievement Gaps in the US.
Gopalan, M., & Nelson, A.A. (Working Paper Available) Understanding the Discipline Gap in Schools.
Murphy, M.C., Carter, E., Emerson, K., Gopalan, M., Bottoms, B., Walton, G. (In prep) Effects of a social-psychological intervention on persistence and academic achievement of freshmen students in a large public university.
Gopalan, M., Murphy, M.C (In prep) All Social Belonging Interventions are not Created Equal – Evidence from a Multi-Site Randomized Control Trial.
My teaching philosophy is driven by the belief that every student brings a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and experiences that contribute to their learning and the learning experience of their classmates. Hence, two basic ideas drive my approach to teaching—scaffolding learning and the use of multiple assessment techniques to let students demonstrate accomplishment of various course goals. Overall, my goal as a teacher is to facilitate each students’ mastery of the learning outcomes and goals I set out for the course. I believe that what happens within a course or the classroom is just a beginning of a lifelong learning journey. This belief guides my pedagogical strategies and philosophy.
I have had the privilege to teach a variety of classes—introductory as well as upper-level courses at the undergraduate level. I have also served as a teaching assistant for the doctoral-level statistics/econometrics 2-semester course sequence.
Statistical Modeling and Research Methods
Instructor of Record
Upper-level Undergraduate Course
Macroeconomics for Public Affairs
Instructor of Record
Spring 2016, Spring 2017
Statistics for Research in Public Affairs
Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017