Research & Pubs


My research largely focuses on the processes of teaching and learning complex concepts in STEM education, and examines how student experiences shapes understanding and thinking in mathematics subjects. Under this larger umbrella, in my research I have studied strategy flexibility, insight moments in mathematics, the influence of math anxiety and threat experiences, as well as how students reason about statistical concepts. See publications below for more on these lines of research.

Rahal & Shaw, (2022)

Rahal, D., & Shaw, S. T. (2022). Impacts of the COVID-19 Transition to Remote Instruction for University Students. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, DOI: 10.1080/19496591.2022.2111519

Preprint Available here:

Rahal, Shaw, & Stigler (2022)

Rahal, D., Shaw, S. T., & Stigler, J. (2022). Students of lower social status show greater distress prior to academic exams. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping . DOI 10.1080/10615806.2022.2110588

Shaw, S. T., Pogossian, & Ramirez, G. (2020). The mathematical flexibility of college students: The role of affective and cognitive factors. British Journal of Educational Psychology.

Stigler, J., Son, J., Givvin, K., Blake, A., Fries, L., Shaw, S.T., & Tucker, M. (2020). The Better Book approach for education research and development. Preprint / Working Paper. To be published in Teacher College Record.

Shaw (2020) Dissertation

Shaw, S. T. (2020). Creative Problem-Solving in Mathematics: Immersion, Impasse, Incubation, and Insight. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of California, Los Angeles.

This is my dissertation, it focuses on a manipulation of incubation periods in the lab for solving a math problem, and follows up with students to investigate if and how they solved the problem after leaving the lab. It includes both the study noted above in Shaw & Ramirez, and a second replication attempt. The finding that continuously working students outsolve incubation condition students outside the lab did not replicate.

Shaw, S. T., & Ramirez, G. (2019). Insights inside and outside the lab: Immersion, incubation, and individual differences on creative problem solving in mathematics. Preprint / Working Paper.

Shaw, S. T., Spink, K. S., & Chin-Newman, C. S. (2019). “Do I really belong here?”: The stigma of being a community college transfer student at a four-year university. Community College Journal of Research and Practice. 43(9), 657-660. doi: 10.1080/10668926.2018.1528907

This article discusses how transfer students can report feeling a stigma when they arrive at a four-year university because they came from community college. We explore student accounts of this feeling, and highlight how students in our sample noted that after the initial period of transition, they no longer felt this stigma and felt like they were on par with other students.

Ramirez, G., Shaw, S. T., & Maloney, E. A. (2018). Math anxiety: Past research, promising interventions, and a new interpretation framework. Educational Psychologist, 53(3), 145-166. doi:10.1080/00461520.2018.1447384

In this paper, we review previous literature on math anxiety and the theorectical accounts and frameworks used to explain the math anxiety and math achievement link. However, we note that theories are unable to reconcile how some students are high performers but still show math anxiety. Informed by this interesting finding, we propose a new framework for the development of perpetuation of math anxiety-- an interpretation framework that suggests it is how students intrepret disfluent math experiences which shapes their narrative view of themselves in math contexts.

Shaw, S. T., & Chin-Newman, C. S. (2017). " You Can Do It!" Social Support for Transfer Students During the Transition From Community College to a Four-Year University. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 29(2), 65-78.

In this paper, we discuss findings from three focus groups of newly transferred community college students about who had provided them with support and how. Three main sources of support were found-- emotional support (telling students you believe in them), practical support (cooking dinner, childcare), and social captial at the campus level ("campus capital").

Chin-Newman, C. S., & Shaw, S. T. (2015). Strengthening campus-based social support for transfer students. E-SOURCE for College Transitions, 12(2), 11-13.

In this article, we highlight ways to support newly transferred community college students both at the four-year university and at the community college level.

Chin-Newman & Shaw (2013)

Chin-Newman, C. S., & Shaw, S. T. (2013). The anxiety of change: How transfer students face challenges. Journal of College Admission, (221), 1. p. 15-21

This article discusses the most common challenges transfer students reported facing when transition to a four-year university. We conducted three focus groups with newly transferred students, and found that the most commonly reported difficulties were transferring of units, adapting to an accelerated term (quarters instead of semesters), feelings of belonging and efficacy, as well as learning to navigate the new university system.

Technical Reports

Shaw, S. T. & Skomsvold, P. (2015). Pit stops and pitfalls of the yellow brick road: Characteristics of community college students along the path of degree completion. Retrieved from

This report shares descriptive statistics of students who begin their postsecondary journey in community colleges, and provides demographic breakdowns along the path to degree completion (e.g. those did not earn a 2 year degree or certificate in 6 years, those who transferred but did not earn a bachelor's degree in six years, etc.). One of the most interesting findings of this report is that for students who are considered independent students, those who transferred, and earned their bachelor’s degree within six years had a median income over $20,000 more than students who did not transfer or earn a 2-year degree or certificate within six years.

Woo, J. & Shaw, S. (2015). Trends in Graduate Student Financing: Selected Years, 1995–96 to 2011–12 (NCES2015-026). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S.Department of Education. Washington, DC.

This report lays out descriptive information about graduate student borrowing and financing trends from the years 1995-2012.

Shaw, S. & Radwin, D. (2014). Comparison of Original and Revised Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2007- 2008 (NCES 2014-179). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of EducationSciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

This report explains changes in the weights used in NPSAS 2008.

Ifill, N. & Shaw, S. (2013). Undergraduate Financial Aid Estimates by Type of Institution in 2011-2012 (NCES2013-169). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S.Department of Education. Washington, DC.

This report provides descriptives about financial aid by the type of instutition students enrolled in.

Radford, A., Lew, T., & Shaw, S. (2013). Today’s Baccalaureate: The Fields and Courses that Make UpCurrent Baccalaureate Recipients’ Degrees in 2007–08 (NCES 2013-755). National Center forEducation Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

This report shows patterns of coursetaking among a nationally representative sample of students who received their bachelor's degrees in 2007-2008.

The most interesting finding in this is that Psychology is the most common course taken by all bachelor degree students, moreso than mathematics or writing classes that are often required.

Popular Press & Other

* indicates mentorship role

Authors: Eric Barajas

& Stacy Shaw*

Authors: Nora McNulty

& Stacy Shaw*